Tag Archives: Review

Book Review: Queen of Shadows, by Sarah J. Maas.

Queen of Shadows is the fourth installment in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. It carries on the story of Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, once known as Celaena Sardothien, as she utilizes and faces her horrifying past in order to become the queen she was born to be.

After the disappointment of Heir of Fire, I was in no rush to read this book. It had been sitting on my windowsill since December until I decided, this week, to force myself to finish it. And I am glad I did.

The first half of the book seemed rather slow and played out, a lot of what was written seemed rather irrelevant and could have been left out. I would give specific examples if there were not so many to choose from.
The second half of the book, on the other hand, was very fast paced and kept to the storyline and point as much as possible. When I hit that switch in the book, I could not put it down.

As usual, Sarah’s writing is almost impossible to fault, being economical, well structured, and correct in all senses of the word. Her storytelling is another story. As I have said, a lot of what she writes is unnecessary. The stories and characters also seem rather unoriginal, a lot of the time, as I pointed out in my review on Throne of Glass.
On a more positive note, she does have a certain knack for creating strong bonds and emotions between her readers and her books. She did with me, at least. I found myself trapped in an unrelenting cycle of emotion whilst reading this. From excitement, to rage, to disgust, to sadness, to worry, the list goes on. I even cried, which only three books have ever been able to make me do.

Going back again to previous reviews for this series, I would like to make a note that, while most of the characters have stayed the same, the story, and a few characters, have finally shown some form of progression. It only took four books.
As for the characters who have not progressed, they have become increasingly more annoying. Aelin and Rowan’s romance still sickens me, as it completely stole a defining trait from Aelin’s personality and made her as cliché as any other protagonist with a love story.
It was interesting, however, to see Aelin finally have an emotion other than grief. It made reading about her a lot more palatable.

The book is predictable and only managed to surprise me a couple of time within its six hundred and forty-five pages. AND Sarah is still using those godforsaken ‘phantom’ metaphors and similes.
Although, Sarah has put reins on her character switching in this book. There is still plenty of it, however, it is used much more effectively and flows naturally with the storytelling.

Even with the lack of progression and the boring first half, the latter half was very strong and well written, and much more enjoyable. Needless to say, I recommend this to the same readership as the previous books in the series.



Book Review: Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman.

Pigeon English is based around the lives of the most inaccurate year-sevens I have ever heard of; with inaccurate and improperly used language and terminology to match.
Despite the serious themes of the book, there is not much to talk about in concern to it, as not much happens.

Never have I known a child in year seven of school to be like Harrison (the main character), or most of the kids in this book. They are either based on another generation of kids, well before the current, or the author has done poor research on the subject of kids. Or perhaps he wrote the characters however he wanted them to be, and did it poorly, ignoring modern children’s habits and ignoring any related information.

The language is not only purposefully wrong in places in a failed attempt to create humor, other parts of it are plain irritating. Terms like “Quick quick,” and “Dope-fine,” are unnatural for even a kid of that age to say, and unnatural writing is never good writing.
The writing and language are also extremely repetitive. It seemed I was often reading some of the same sentences over and over again.

I would say the story moves along slowly, but there is not much story to move along with. While there is a mystery that lasts the course of the book, it seems more like a background plot and is there to give the book some substance, however minimal. You are mostly reading about the day-to-day life of the main character.
There are a few stand-out things happening throughout the book, but again, these are all subplots, side stories, or filler.

As I have said, the majority of characters are unrealistic and annoying to read. They are all also similar in almost every way. Clearly, not much thought has gone into them. And, while they may be kids and have a lot of growing to do, the characters are rather undeveloped and lack any defining traits. There is also little-t0-no character development.
A few characters are a little more accurate and are bearable to read. The older ones, mostly. But again, the characters are simple and do not develop throughout the story.

The contrast of such dark and serious themes with the innocent mindedness of a child is a noteworthy point. The center story revolves around this.
Murder, abuse, child violence, deportation, and all manner of dark events lie within this book. Of course, while an adult sees the world for a more real place, a child is often interested, excited even, about such events, wanting to be involved in some way. At least, according to Pigeon Engish. Alas, it is interesting to see the children play through the events like they know what they are doing and what they are talking about.
The same goes for racism and sexism. This book shows that such things are put into people’s heads as children, but the children do not know what they are doing is bad until told otherwise.

This book calls to an adult demographic, one who enjoys classic literature, even though this book is not a classic.



Book Review: The English Monster, by Lloyd Shepherd.

The English Monster is a hard-to-follow, stretched out novel, with poor transitions between times and settings, virtually zero character development, and too many stories and events for a single book.
On the upside, it has an interesting mixture of elements, i.e. history, piracy, black-magic, which makes for an intriguing story, mostly due to wanting to know how it all comes together, in the end.

Discrimination plays a large role in the book, as it would in any story set in the chosen era. A running theme of racism adds, not only truth and realism but an emotional connection to the book and its characters. It creates graphic images which show how horrible things were back then if you were not a privileged white male.

The language, events, and very nature of the novel clearly show it is aimed at an adult-and-older demographic. Sex, cussing, and rich history are the biggest giveaways.

Specificity to a certain point is good. Going past that line, as done by Lloyd Shepherd in The English Monster, while it does paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, it causes a loss of interest in the book – pages 269-280 is the best example.
As for directness, Lloyd has used as little as possible. Large chunks of the book are unnecessary and lead the reader away from the story. In turn, the economy of writing is affected by the lack of directness. While the novel is very wordy, Lloyd is economic with things commonly associated with economic writing, i.e. doublets, and overuse of synonyms.

Balanced is not a term I would use to describe The English Monster, however, this can be considered a good thing. A variety of emotions is important to keep readers interested, but that does not mean it has to be the same for every single book. This book is supposed to be tragic, and while snippets of comedy or romance wouldn’t hurt, the consistency of despair and evil reflects well the book’s story and characters.

The book’s story is very original and plays a nice twist on past events. While not as intricate as other crime novels I have read, it has a unique tale. The straightforward and easy-to-guess narrative is made up for by the out-of-the-box concept of the story.
As for the characters, the majority are basic and undeveloped, and the reader is not given enough time to connect with them, so much so that they cannot be considered cliché as they do not have enough traits or personality to be so. A few of the characters are a little more advanced, though not by much. These characters are not cliché either, most for the previously given reason, though the central character is not because he is well designed and has many original aspects about him. All characters are, however, bland and uninteresting.

After evaluating the book in detail, I have concluded that The English Monster is not a good book, but could be enjoyed by a specific audience – old adults, with a taste for the particular era of history, who enjoy an old-fashioned book style.



Book review: Hunger Games (series) – Suzanne Collins

I read the first one in a matter of 3-4 days. It was a brilliant piece of literature and was one of the most exhilarating though provoking, relatable , realistically fake, wonderful and best written books I’ve ever read. It was unbelievable how quickly I got sucked into the book; especially considering I thought the film was appalling. The way the book is written; in the format of a sort of lifetime diary, is astounding. It really shows the story should be told, and not in the way the director had perceived it. Everything about it was wonderful and actually made me realise a good deal of things that are, aren’t and should be important in my life. In my opinion, this is what a book should do, and if an author can create a book that does this, then they’ve written a masterpiece. A lot of the details from the book stuck in my head, whereas almost none did from the film. One thing especially is the bread being given by Peeta to Katniss. The image is perfectly planted in my brain of a girl looking through trash cans and a bright golden light through a doorway and the bread being burned hard and slightly black on the bottom and the pigs and the giving and receiving and the hitting from Peeta’s mum to him and the taste of the bread is even in my mouth and the mud and squelchiness of the floor and the heavy downpour of rain.

What I really liked about this book – and series – is that they are very original in so many ways. The very story line of the entire series is riveting. I personally have a deep love for this, and the other books, because they are set in a world that, though it isn’t real, it is something that could easily be. I also really enjoy the characters of Peeta and Gale (mostly Gale), and so I was quite disappointed that Gale didn’t have a bigger part, and that those two don’t have much time together.

The second book – Catching Fire – was said by many to be the best book of the three; I on the other hand, think it is by far the worst one. The book is boring, and drags out, and doesn’t have any emotional scenes in it what-so-ever. Literally, none. Not even a little happy scene or something, it’s like it is completely blank. This got me very bored, very quick. I did of course finish the book, but was overall disappointed with it.

Now… Mockingjay… this is the one! Mockingjay was easily my favorite of the three, and not just because there is lots of action, which is the reason most people seem to think. This book showed a lot more of the other characters, and was definitely the most emotional. I actually had a tear in my eye at a certain part: *SPOILER ALEART* when Katniss reads the message from Cinna.

I do have to say however, – and a lot of people will probably thoroughly disagree with me on this – that I thought the ending of the book was actually really awful. There was no closure on so many different things, nearly all of the characters were just blanked, and the last line or so was so cheesy, and actually really mean. In conjunction to this, I would also like to point out that I really don’t like the character of Katniss.

Anyway, the ending… I really feel Suzanne should have closed more doors, so to speak, and that the sudden ending of the relationship between Gale and Katniss was a horrendous decision on her part. On this point, I have read something online (I don’t know if it’s real) a epilogue for Gale’s character, which was a really good ending (for what there was to work with), and should have been in the book.

And that last line. UGH! I hated it! It was actually kind of cruel of Katniss to ask that question, and make Peeta answer, because it is basically her saying “even though you’ve done all of the stuff for me that you have, and that you have constantly told me, and that we’ve gone through everything that we have, do you even actually love me?!?” Aghhhh! It’s terrible.

Now, these books aren’t as easy to write about as the other books I’ve discussed, as they are written, in my opinion, almost solely for entertainment purposes, and so there is less literary points to discuss. Also, these books don’t really have any personal meaning to myself. This leaves me solely with just my opinion on them, and so I do apologise if this review isn’t up to my usual standard.