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A-red-lipstick-wearing bibliophile extraordinaire. Word nerd & Joss Whedon fangirl; Literature lover & book reviewer. Lady Libertine; Tea collector; Potterhead.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Review: Revenge (Jimmy Coates, #3)

Jimmy seems to be finding it increasingly difficult to evade the clutches of NJ-7. However, the recent escape wasn't one without injury. When we last left them, a life was hanging in the balance, and once more Jimmy and his family are forced into a life on the run.

In the third instalment of the series, Christopher Viggo has found himself unnamed powerful new friends who have agreed to smuggle them all into the United States and out of harms way. With this new alliance, plans to take down NJ-7 once and for all are being put into motion.
All hopes of a normal life away from their enemies are dashed when Jimmy starts experience recurring images flashing inside his head, accompanied by mind boggling headaches. What do they mean? And can Jimmy even trust what's going on inside his own body?

This felt different than the others, although still packed with enormous amounts of action, it almost seemed muted under the weight of the emotions rolling throughout this book. A lot of the main characters are experiencing some form of inner turmoil at this point, constant fear and moving from one place to the next seems to be heightening tensions all around. (Thank goodness for Felix who seems to act once again, as light relief and gave me frequent moments of giggles.)
Unlike the previous two books, I wasn't tearing out my hair at the injustice of it all, instead it was replaced by a deep rooted sadness. Jimmy feels older. Emotionally, he's matured into someone who is riddled with confusion, and obsession. He's all too aware of how far people are willing to go to manipulate him to serve their own purpose, and although frequently broken he seems to find himself putting trust at the feet of people he barely even knows. It's awful to experience as a reader. It really, really is.

I read this in pretty much one sitting, and was itching to buy the next book when I'd got to a revelation that forced me stop at one point and say, "I'm sorry, what?" Hats off to Joe Craig though, for managing to change the overall tone of this book without changing pace.
I've really come to the love this series, and the wonderful writing style of the author. I know I've said this before but it really is underrated, falling under the shadow of Alex Rider and similar boy hero series. I really think it's something that should and could have the potential to stand up on its own, if only people would take it as something that is entirely independent. (Because it is, you know.)

I have an unwritten rule when it comes to my reading dates: I usually wait three books before I call myself a fan of something. I'm flying the Jimmy Coates flag, you guys. I think you should be doing the same.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Review: The Ocean At The End of the Lane.

It took a lot of coaxing and badgering to get me to pick up a Neil Gaiman book, but it was never from a lack of interest; I simply hadn't got there yet.
I finally did just over a year ago, and haven't looked back since. I'm fairly certain that Mr Gaiman's head is the place where half remembered dreams go to end up more beautiful, and more complete than anyone ever thought possible. His words have had a profound effect on me, and I swear I've been a fan my whole life. I'd try to explain, but to do so is to become lexically challenged. I need my words right now. Having said that, I'll try my hardest to make this an actual book review and not an ode to the author.

But where to begin? Inevitably, at the beginning. We are introduced to a man attending a funeral, in the neighbourhood in which he grew up. He takes a tumble down memory lane; all of a sudden he's seven years old again and no one attended his birthday party. He remembers Lettie Hempstock, the 11 year old girl who convinces him that a pond behind her house is actually the ocean. He remembers the lodger who stole the family car, and committed suicide in it. And he remembers the unspeakable evils that came as a consequence.

The novel's beauty lies in its innocence of childhood memory, in its heart lies the need for survival against all odds, and in its soul the very magic of it lies (in my humble opinion) a story of friendship and trust. I entered a place that had no concept of time while I was reading this; I'd started during the day, and the sun had started to set by the time I looked up from the last page. Of course, it has some unspeakable horrors that leaves me goose pimply and nervous. There are three chapters, two involve a bathroom and one a field; even speaking about it makes my skin react terribly, they're the sort of instances that will stay with me forever. With the seven year old protagonist, I was transported back to younger days when I would end up being terrified by what I was reading and desperately trying to make sense of the why.

It was everything I hoped it would be, and absolutely nothing I expected. It was different, and definitely more personal to the author, but it felt the same and all wrapped up in a familiar genre that is so completely his own it can only really be described in my head as Gaimany. I loved this book. I'm glad it turned from a novella, into a novel. I will recommend this to everyone of every age group, simply because any age group can read it. I so highly recommend this, I'd probably even be willing to part with my own copy. I think.

Rating: ★★★

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Review: The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P, #1)

The story here largely involves W.A.R.P (Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme); a secret FBI operation that hides key witnesses in the past to ensure their safety, before testifying in major trials. In this instance, the witnesses are sent back to early 19th Century England.
Riley is an orphaned boy living in Victorian London, who has the misfortune of being apprenticed to sociopathic illusionist Albert Garrick. A man who now uses his power of misdirection towards murder. On one particular job, Riley finally has to prove himself to his master by making his first kill; instead he finds himself hurtling forward through time.
It's in modern day London that Riley is saved from his fate, by Chevie Savano; a plucky junior FBI agent with a lot to prove. Now on the run, Riley and Chevie must evade the murderous magician as they are hunted down through time.

We've all been in this place; one of your favourite series ends and the author begins anew. You can't help but harshly judge the new series before you've even read it, because let's face it: it'll pale in comparison right?
Right. Well, wrong really. I was really excited when I found out about this series, and it was largely to do with the fact that I absolutely adored Colfer's previous series Artemis Fowl; but new series are always a big deal for me- it's a way for the author to show a different side to them, and I definitely saw one.

Of course, it was wonderfully fast paced- I just couldn't put it down. It also had the same familiar Colfer wit; and it had the same art of making me love the villains probably more than the heroes, but it's the start of an entirely different series. Artemis Fowl had an absurd brilliance to it that was absolutely wonderful. Sometimes things got silly, and the sillier it got- the more I enjoyed it. The Reluctant Assassin possessed something much darker though, and a lot more serious. There was real pain for the characters in the book, for both hero and villain alike.

The characters were great in this, it's always refreshing when female characters are obviously badass without being irritating and Chevie is one of them. She's gobby, reckless and annoying but still pretty great. Riley, unlike Artemis uses a combination of street smarts and sheer dumb luck to claw his way out of sticky situations. Sometimes his innocence is astounding, and plays his role of a cheeky young boy very well. (He deserved a clip round the ear, on a few occasions. Just saying.)
And Garrick? Well, Garrick. What can I say, penchant for reluctantly super smart sexy villains and all that rot. As well as being relentlessly evil, there were times where I genuinely felt sorrow in my heart for his character. He reminded me of a scruffy, long haired Oliver Reed, in Oliver!

In short, I welcome W.A.R.P. with open arms. It's not Artemis Fowl, but it is something new. The only problem about it being new though, is having to wait to find out what happens next. Watch this space, I guess.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, 1 July 2013

Monkeying Around: A Tale of the Bilio-Mat

Most people in my social circle know that I will travel great lengths for the want of books, and the love of book shops. And when I'm unable to? Well, may the Force be with the person I select for a spot of vicarious living. When I found out two of my sisters were travelling to Toronto, I all but screamed the word Biblo-Mat at them. Every time they mentioned their holiday. For two months.

There are three absolute scenarios for my discovery of the Biblio-Mat and the place it is housed, The Monkey's Paw:

1. Timey-Wimey Potter-Pal Emma
2. Tumblr
3. An entirely eloquent google search of "cool book things."
3a. This article from The New York Times, T Magazine.

The Monkey's Paw is an antiquarian bookstore specialising in old and unusual books, and is the home of The Biblio-Mat; a coin operated vending machine that dispenses a book at random after entering a $2 coin. (It even rings when your book drops down) Heavenly, right? The sort of heavenly that's akin to a duvet day, with a cuppa and my latest read. You can't put a price on this sort of excitement, other than $2 of course. 

My sister got me two books from the Biblio-Mat, and I'm fairly certain that it has either divine powers or it secretly scanned her brain for information about me. The books that came home with her are absolutely perfect. The first was, 'Wunnerful, Wunnerful! The Autobiography of Lawrence Welk.' I have no idea who he is, but owner Stephen Fowler was surprised it had come out and told my sister that it's the same book from the video. (Expletives were used, but you know me.)
The second book is titled, 'Homes and Haunts of British Poets.' My absolute adoration of dead poets is no secret; anything that contains information about Lord Byron is a guaranteed hit in my eyes. I absolutely cannot wait to get started on it.

The only downside is not being able to go myself, I couldn't possibly comment about how amazing the store is, but for idealest reasons I can guarantee amazingness. I also bet it smells really great, the kind of smell you can only get from old books. Yum.

So if you're ever in Toronto, you know exactly where you need to go!
Happy reading!
- Kaveeta