Clockwork Princess Review

Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare

Sunday morning

No one tells you how you should write your reviews. They shouldn’t. It should be in your voice and be in your words. It should be what you thought of a book. For this review, I started it probably (I’m not sure, check my Goodreads) a month ago in my lounge. It’s a Sunday morning and I started this before writing my book.

 

Read in a week

I am reading most mornings, Monday to Friday. Occasionally, I’ll read on Saturday or Sunday when I’m not distracted by my writing or hanging with my girlfriend. For this book, I believe I read it in a week. I’d read the previous two books in the prequel series and the entire Mortal Instruments series. So, it’s not just a one off.

 

No spoiler

I’m not going to spoil this book for anyone. My reviews will tell a story. How I felt. What I was doing. Where I was. I will give each book a rating from five. Unfortunately, due to the limited programming of the plugin I’m using, you can only see whole numbers. I’ll round to the nearest number.

 

Mortal Instruments tie in

As for the book, Clockwork Princess, it links the Infernal Devices to the Mortal Instruments series. We learn from the characters, Jem and Tessa, that they are in fact characters in the Mortal Instruments. I already guessed this from the first book in this prequel as I recognised the name Tessa instantly and guessed who Jem was.

 

Emotionally Satisfying

Cassandra Clare must’ve done a lot of planning to create this series. I’m not going to point out the holes I saw. Many other people have already done that. What I will say is that, emotionally, this series closes the loose ends nicely and can make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. This is what an author and a reader want. Closure.

 

The history

It does feel like some of the characters, such as Mortmain, were tacked on to this series. It feels as though they weren’t thought of in the Mortal Instruments (which is probably true) because there are no mentions of this history (and there would be) in the Mortal Instruments series. That’s one of the reasons why this book is rated lower.

 

Teenage lust

I suppose, I should add that I’m not a teenage girl. I just found the love triangle repetitive from the Mortal Instruments. The fact that I felt like most of this book was about settling who gets who also lowered the rating. I like the world Cassandra Clare created, but not the characters.

 

Summary

In summary, it’s a good book. That’s why it gets three stars. I would recommend this series to those who liked the Mortal Instruments series. It follows a similar pattern with (kind of) similar characters and circumstances.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/clockwork-princess-review

The Fault in Our Stars Review

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

Apparently I read this in a day. I’m not so sure if I did, probably a couple of days and I just didn’t record exactly when  I started. I don’t remember when I read it, but I’ll have you know that I was glued to this book. I thought it wouldn’t be amazing (I’ve already seen the movie) and I thought it’d be sappy.

This is a love story, but also a heartbreaking story. We live in the world of young Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. They meet at a cancer survival club and get to know each other almost immediately. Obviously, in some way it isn’t real what they would do and how fast they fell, but I felt it was true enough.

While no reasonable person would perform the actions of Hazel Grace, she is not reasonable. Throughout the story, we learn she is impulsive, despite everything and is still filled with life. She has trouble breathing and has to lug this small oxygen tank around with her.

Hazel Grace and Gus click. They fall in love. Kind of a spoiler, but not really. I feel as though people could relate to Hazel Grace’s situation, even though not many of us would’ve been through something like that.

Hazel is a strong character in the book. We fall into her mind and see the world through her own eyes. I think John Green did a great job with the writing. It’s snappy and very much how I’d imagine a teenage girl write.

I guess through this we see how different people react to pain and suffering. How people handle death and the loss of those they love. There are just so many contrasts in the book.

What I’m trying to say, is that I liked the book and would recommend it to most people. It’s soppy. It’s sad. But at least the character Hazel Grace is likeable.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-fault-in-our-stars-review

Looking for Alaska Review

Looking for Alaska - John Green

I finished this book this morning on the way to work. I don’t know why I like the book. Probably because it’s everything I wanted to experience as a teenager but never had the guts to. This book gave me my teenage years back and I liked it.

Sure, the story is sad and the second half of the book plays out as some sort of teenage crisis but I feel as if I can relate to the characters. That’s what we want from a good book, to feel the characters as if they were real.

No one is perfect and that’s what I liked from the character Pudge. He lied when he needed to. He loved the wrong girl and she played him. He smoked and he got drunk (albeit not often).

I believe this story explains loss and how we can deal with it. I’m not going to go deep into themes because I’m not studying in an English class anymore. Although I have had my own personal story of loss, it is nothing as dramatic as this.

The teenage angst shown in this book creates a lively and wild adventure that you can feel you are along for the ride. John Green did an excellent job and I’m actually surprised that this hasn’t been made into a film.

I guess, in summary, I found this book to be the best of the three John Green books I’ve read so far. The fact that the characters seem real and wild took me away on their adventures with them.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/looking-for-alaska-review

Paper Towns Review

Paper Towns by Green, John (2009) Paperback - John Green

I read Paper Towns on my way to (and from) Prague in a quiet German bus. I was only interrupted when the initial announcement came on that you get wifi on the bus and that they hope we enjoy the trip. The weekend in Prague was a success, but I found reading the book hard. Why?

I found that I just didn’t like the characters. Quentin, also known as Q, is the main character we follow through this journey. I guess the main point here is that he isn’t very friendly towards his friends in his single-minded goal. Q’s character felt dry to me. I don’t know why but he was stale.

We come next to the character Margo. She’s an adventurous spirit who leaves her hometown without a trace. Maybe it’s America, maybe it’s me, but I find it unrealistic for a child (although she is legally an adult) to just disappear. Obviously, not everyone will agree with me, and that’s fine.

Lastly, I will join the next two characters Marcus (Radar) and Ben into a paragraph. I thought these two characters were far more interesting than Q. At least Ben is the funny guy, and Radar is the guy whose parents collect black Santas.

To sum it up, I’m glad I read the book, but I think it’s a weaker story than John Green’s other books.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/paper-towns-review

The Book Thief Review

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

I started the book on my ride back from Prague. I found this quirky book after looking up the last years (or two years ago, maybe three) top books. This stumbled right into my palms, and I ordered it straight away. Now, it’s not my usual book, which may, possibly, be an explanation for why it’s not highly rated.

The story was sweet. It’s about a girl, in Nazi Germany. She’s moved to an ordinary family and has to live with them through the war. It’s a love story, kind of not, told through the perspective of Death. Death is a funny guy, in this case, he adds humour to an otherwise horrific period. We learn so much about what Nazi Germany was like and how people survived the war. We learn what it’s like to be a German (and a Jew) during the war.

Why, then, is the story rated only three stars? While I applaud Zusak for his new style of the book, I found it, at times unclear and hard to read. I was warned beforehand that the style is not usual for a book. Death is funny, but I also felt he took away from the story at times. I almost didn’t feel the story was about Liesel, but about Death and how he sometimes doesn’t like his job. He interrupted the flow a bit too much for me.

All in all, the book is a fun read and I would recommend it, just for something different.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-book-thief-review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - J.K. Rowling

I read this in one morning. It’s not a long book. In fact, it’s more of an encyclopaedia for the bests of Harry Potter (although I’m not too sure if it’s a complete one as there aren’t that many). Now, if you read this book expecting a novel, well I am going to tell you now, go to your local library and read it. It’s not worth buying (unless you want to support the publisher and the charity).

I can’t say much about ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. I mean, I read through it and thought the creatures were interesting, but now, writing this review, I’ve forgotten most of the creatures and what they do. I really like J. K. Rowling’s graphical descriptions and the magical words she oozes so easily. One day, I hope to be as magical as her.

Other than what’s above, the book is really short. I read it in an hour… or an hour and a half. Somewhere around that. That’s really fast for me. So, it’s not that long. But if you really like J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world, and you want to add this to a collection you’re building, I’ll go ahead and recommend it. I recommend a read (from your library or where ever) in any case for all fans of the books.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-review

The Girl on the Train Review

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

This book is interesting because it was recommended to me by my girlfriend, who had been recommended the book by a friend of hers. When I say interesting, I say it because it’s not my first choice of genre. In fact, it’s probably the first of its kind that I’ve read (I’m branching out a little bit). It’s being made into a film, so I thought, it can’t be that bad AND to top it off, it’s on the bestsellers list everywhere.

For me, I found the book a little boring. I found the main characters a bit crazy for me (and I’ve read fantasy series). As usual, I don’t want to spoil anything, so let’s just say there’s a lot of drinking, and that’s what creates the story here. I suppose I could imagine the main character, Rachel, being a real-life person. The book is written from the mind of Rachel, Anna, and Megan (I believe. Please don’t hurt me if I’m wrong). They all see different things and their minds help us solve the mystery.

I found the characters thoughts too chaotic for me. There was too much thinking and not enough conversation to keep me completely engrossed in the book. My girlfriend said that it would get better, but for me, it never did. I just didn’t connect with any of the characters. It was also a little hard to follow at times because the storylines mixed and different points of time mixed (dates for each scene were given but you easily forget the last date).

Would I recommend this book? It depends. If you like mystery books, and different perspectives leading up to the event, then yes. Otherwise, I would recommend a pass on it.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-girl-on-the-train-review

The Nightingale Review

The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

Now, if you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I’ve reviewed The Book Thief. This book, however, is not for children (sorry, young adults), but for adults. It’s also set on the other side of the war and shows a different perspective on the lives of two sisters. The two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, both live in France, but live two very different lives and are two very different characters.

The official genre for this book (according to GoodReads) is historical fiction. This is my first historical fiction book (unless you include The Book Thief). The book is written in quite a lengthy way. I found I couldn’t get into the characters. That’s not to say the characters were bad, in fact, I found the characters quite well defined. It just wasn’t my style of writing.

I recommended the book to my girlfriend, as I thought it’d be interesting for her. It turns out, I’m not the only one who finds it hard to read through. She also said that the story is good, but as a non-native, the story didn’t flow like it should. I kept saying; it gets more interesting the further in you get. She hasn’t read further than half-way yet.

Maybe young adult books have spoilt me. I find they bring you into the moment. This could theoretically be an action book because there is plenty of it inside. One of the sisters, the younger, Isabelle is quite a daring and thrill seeker, whereas the character Vianne is quite the opposite.

The book shows the power that women can have, especially overlooked in times of war. The strength of the two women make this story, but I feel it was let down by the writing. Overall, if you like books on the war, you’ll probably like this book, but otherwise, I would say to get it out at your library.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-nightingale-review

The Lost Hero Review

The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan, Joshua Swanson

Is Percy back?

Back to my favourite old series (well not old – but I did like the original series that I read earlier in the year). However, this series begins completely different. Don’t read further into this paragraph if you don’t want to be spoilt. Instead of Percy Jackson being the main character, we’re led into a new world where Jason (son of Zeus/Jupiter) is the main character. There are also two new support characters for him, Piper (daughter of Aphrodite), and Leo (son of Hephaestus).

 

Wait, so he isn’t?

Now, for me, this was a jolt. I expected to be eased into this series with Percy Jackson. I rolled with it, however, because I thought, why not? Jason is not as fun as Percy was. I found the earlier series much more entertaining than this book. I don’t know yet if Jason deserves to be the main character, I found him too stiff (but that’s probably his training showing). The other two characters, Piper and Leo, are quite okay as support characters. We get to see a little bit of some of the last cast but only glimpses actually.

 

Is the story okay?

The story follows a similar arc as previous books by Rick Riordan. Jason, Piper, and Leo go on a quest to save the world. There are all sorts of obstacles put in the way, but you can predict the ending. The gods in the story are ever present and ever angry with their children. Story wise, I think it’s quite okay what followed.

 

What’s your recommendation?

So, summary time! I thought the book didn’t start off as well as the previous series. I don’t know if there was any hype, as I read this book years after it was published, but in my head, I thought it would be cooler. If you’re a fan of the Percy Jackson series, then please go ahead and read. You’ll eventually get to see the whole cast again.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-lost-hero-review

The Son of Neptune Review

The Son of Neptune - Rick Riordan

Where is this set?

This is a little different from the last book, as now we have switched back to our old friend, Percy Jackson. However, Annabeth, Percy’s girlfriend is not in this book. We have also switched camps to a tropical island (figuratively) for Heros. We’re now in New Rome, America. It’s sort of like this East vs. West America thing played out in a Rome vs. Greek world. This is a whole new civilisation that we discover and uncover in this book. It turns out they also did some things in the last books (that were never mentioned).

 

Percy is the son of who?

Now that Percy has swapped sides, he’s kind of mixed. He’s the son of Poseidon, but he’s also the son of Neptune (not really, the book will explain this). We also are introduced to two new support characters: Hazel (daughter of Hades/Pluto), and Frank (son of Aries/Mars). He’s lost his memory except for Annabeth (I mean, who would forget their girlfriend?).

 

Giants are the enemy

As with the last book, the Giants are the enemies of the Gods and demigods alike. Percy, Hazel, and Frank go on a quest to destroy a giant and bring temporary peace to the world (until the next book). Again, with the last book, I think the new characters need warming up to.

 

Prophecies

If you liked the last book, I forsee you liking this book. But still, I feel this new series doesn’t live up to the old series. It feels slightly more serious, and I loved the goofiness that came with Percy Jackson.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-son-of-neptune-review

The Mark of Athena Review

The Mark of Athena - Rick Riordan

Halfway

So, I just finished this book the day before yesterday. It’s still quite fresh in my mind, unlike quite a few of my earlier reviews. I’m happy that I’m now halfway through the series but at the same time I’m taking a break and not reading the next two yet.

 

Now a break

Why am I taking a break? Well, I feel that this series doesn’t have the same fun and excitement as the previous series. It took me (and there is a reason for this) three weeks (I think) to read this book. The reason is not that it was bad, but that I’m dedicating more time to writing rather than reading.

 

Cliffhanger

I guess this book kind of ends on a cliffhanger. I can’t reveal anything there without spoiling the story, so I’ll write a brief and general review.

 

Reunited

This book follows all the heroes from the last two books. So, we finally get Percy and Annabeth back together. We also see the two camps collide and create one happy family (sort of). Seven are chosen (well pre-chosen) for the new quest in this book.

 

To Rome!

The heroes will eventually find themselves in the real Rome to complete their quests (there are a few this time, rather than one). I felt like this book had pace, but the characters didn’t have the same feel. As I have said in previous reviews, but maybe I’m looking back through rose-tinted glasses, Percy is not as fun as he used to be. I did like that Annabeth got quite a main quest, but I didn’t like the fact that she’s portrayed as powerless apart from her intellect.

 

Heroes and Gods

There are some known gods and some unknown gods that appear in this book and, of course, heroes that have become gods. I thought one of the sacrifices made by the team was pretty funny and in league with the earlier books. That’s probably my favourite scene (you’ll know it when you read up to it).

 

Recommendation

I guess like my previous reviews of this series; you can loan this from your library. I still enjoy the series, but not as much as the last series. I really do like Rick Riordan’s writing, it just feels like it’s not as snappy (maybe also a product of the longer books). I’m still looking forward to completing this series.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-mark-of-athena-review

Reading Like a Writer Review

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them - Francine Prose

It’s been a long time coming

I read this book over so many weeks. I could’ve read it faster, but let’s just say it wasn’t my favourite book. It’s not as entertaining as the blurb leads you to believe. I decided only to read this book when I had free time as I had:

  1. 1. Novels to read. I’m not going to read a book on close reading/writing over an actual story.
  2. 2. Found the book not as exciting as I had hoped.

Recommended by the critics

So, I decided to get this book out because it was recommended by the New York Times and had fairly good reviews on GoodReads. Apparently, you can’t trust all the critics. I found the book a little dull. Why? I don’t remember if I’ve read a book that the book quoted. Why? Well, a lot of the classical books that people love, I just can’t get into. The language used then is not the same as it is now.

 

Do we agree?

A lot of the time, she quoted paragraphs from books with great examples of (speech, sentences, paragraphs, etc.). I don’t agree with all that she quoted. I can’t pick an example off the top of my head, but as I was reading through, I thought that she over exaggerated and read too much into the stories. That’s just my humble opinion. I think books are for enjoyment, and if you have to analyse a sentence to read a deeper meaning, then that’s not so fun.

 

Reading about writing

I have read quite a few books on writing now (you can check my GoodReads), and I have several more to read. This book hasn’t stopped me enjoying reading on how to write. I would say, read the first chapter in a local library. See if you enjoy it. I found the paragraphs quite long winded and long to read through. My thinking, or so I’ve read, is that the longer the paragraphs, the more intellectual the book is. Whether that makes it a good book, is a different story. I believe that writing, and reading that writing is entirely subjective, and you can’t look at a piece of writing and objectively declare it better than another. You may read this book and decide that Francine Prose is the best author and totally disagree with me. That’s okay.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/reading-like-a-writer-review

We’re All Damaged Review

We're All Damaged - Matthew Norman

First ebook

I caved in and bought an Amazon Kindle. My book library is growing, and we’ll be moving one day soon back to my homeland, and I don’t know what I’m going to do with all my physical books. I’ll probably try to ship them, but I’ll have to see how that works. I don’t want to pay a bunch of tax on books I’ve already paid tax on. So, as I said, this is my first Kindle read (I got it free with Amazon Prime). My second Kindle read will come next week (I bought it on special).

 

Was it long enough?

If I didn’t get this book for free, I would question whether it was long enough to be a novel. It seemed short to be, but maybe that’s because I breezed through the book. I only read this during my commute to and from work and one lazy Saturday where my Fiancée and I went to the Isar and lay in the sun and read. The book was fun, cheeky, and almost energetic. However, there is quite a bit of predictability as it does read like a romcom.

 

That ending

It’s the thing that lets this book down. I liked the book a lot and would’ve given it four stars for being so fun. But (there’s always a but) the ending made me cringe. I feel like the author didn’t think it through. As a reader, I expected something more from the ending and felt really really let down. I’d be curious to read if his other books are also like this. I would recommend you get this from your library or find some special for it as an ebook.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/were-all-damaged-review

I Am Number Four Review

I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore

First paid ebook

I know, I’m still a tight ass when it comes to ebooks. Mostly I’m looking for specials or whatever to download them. I still like the feel of physical books so I’ll always go for physical if given the choice (and there is only a couple euros difference between them). But this ebook was too good of a special to resist, so I went ahead and bought it (even though I’ve loaded my Kindle full of free ebooks). I did feel a little ripped off because I thought I was 75% through, but it turns out the last 25% was the chapter from the next book.

 

Movie first

Full disclosure here, I saw the movie first. I know that spoils books (same way when you see the movie after reading a book). In my defence, I saw the movie years ago, so I could only remember bits and pieces. However, the character looks were already etched into my brain so any description I read would not materialise a new character. I only saw the actors/actresses. It’s a shame, but that’s life.

 

Too easy

I thought the main character, Four (John Smith), had it too easy in the end. The powers came almost naturally and within a few pages, he mastered everything he needed. I hope I’m not spoiling it for everyone. I also think some of the characters were a little bland (Sarah Hart). I know she’s an ex-cheerleader, but her character didn’t feel real to me. Maybe it’s because we saw her through Four (John Smith), who is in love with her.

 

Bad guys

We didn’t learn much about the bad guys (except everything about why) in the story. I feel like they could’ve had more of a story to them. Again, with first person perspective, that’s harder to do, but just destroying a bunch of nameless strangers doesn’t add the emotional complexity that this story could’ve used. However, I did feel sad at the very end (but also outraged). I can’t tell you what happens, but you’ll likely guess.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, if you happen to see the special on the ebook, go for it. I believe this could be a fun series to read along (I’ve not yet bought the next books). But don’t spend too much or you might be a little disappointed. If you’ve got a local library, just go there and loan it out. It won’t take you long to read (it’s not that big of a book). I would’ve rated it higher, but the way the story ended, the chapters at the end of the book from others in the series, and the way it became too easy for Four, made me go with the three stars.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/i-am-number-four-review

The Paper Magician Review

The Paper Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg

Rental book

As my second Kindle (monthly Prime rental) book, I thought I’d go for a “top” book in my genre. An Amazon imprint publishes it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s not a long book, but it felt much longer than it should’ve. It’s set back a hundred or two hundred years ago in London where magicians work with man-made goods. I thought the premise was fun, and it was interesting that the main character Ceony, worked with paper. I also quite liked the idea of working with man-made things such as metal (smithing) etc. and being able to enchant them.

 

Into the heart

I felt that there was too much backstory to the story. We dive into the backstory of Mg. Thane about half-way through the book and then spend the rest of the book there (I can’t explain this without giving away the story). I don’t know about most people, but I just cringed when I read all of this. I wasn’t interested in any of this, but I guess the author thought this backstory would be fun.

 

The evil character

I still don’t know how I felt about the evil character, Lira, who is what is named an “Excisioner”. I felt she wasn’t exactly thought out or explained in this book (even though she features in a lot of the back story). I don’t know, but none of the characters resonated with me in this story. Ceony, the main character felt rushed and way too easily charmed. Mg. Thane almost seemed too cliche.

 

Summary

I thought it was quite a cool concept, but not executed as well as it could’ve been. I would recommend you get this out at your library, or if you can rent it free as I did, that’d be a good opportunity to read it also. All in all, I liked the magical concept, but not the actual execution of the story.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/the-paper-magician-review

Revision & Self-Editing Review

Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel - James Scott Bell

Perfect for beginners

Let me just start by saying that this book would be ideal for writers who have no experience writing. Why do I say this? Because the first half of the book is dedicated to small summaries of how you could (should maybe) write and examples of plot etc. (the basics). I’m not saying the first half is useless, but I didn’t find anything new in there, and it wasn’t that relevant to the title of the book (a little misleading).

 

Tone

I like Bell’s tone throughout the book. He has an excellent voice and is easy to read and understand. He clearly states whose books you should emulate (to become a best seller) and gives examples of say opening lines or paragraphs from Stephen King or other thriller writers. I guess this book wasn’t directed to fantasy audiences as I noticed most of the examples he quoted were thrillers.

 

Usefulness

I would go as far as to say I found his revision techniques at odds with my own (but it’s good to see and experiment with them). Unfortunately for this review, I can’t quote off the top of my head what he suggested. But I remember him writing that revision for your first book should take a while and that your first draft is utter crap. I guess he expects all authors just to write down uninhibited what they think the story should be, or how it should go. My first draft was crap, but not that far out from what I expected as I had planned the story from the beginning. So, I haven’t been able to use his techniques for revision. I think he also suggested you have a log of all that your character says, so you can keep it consistent. Well, I appreciate that would work, that’s a bit too far out of the scope for how I want to revise.

 

Conclusion

If you want techniques for revision, this book does have them (just in the second half). I would recommend you get this book out on loan if possible. Bell has an easy to read and conversational style that will keep you reading through the book. The only thing I find is that the title is a little misleading.

Source: http://www.amaitken.com/book-review/revision-self-editing-review