My Favourite First Lines

If you’ve ever finished a story-writing unit in English, than you most likely would have heard of the ‘Sizzling Start!” I know I definitely have. It’s been drilled in over and over, year after year, and while it does begin to get a little repetitive, it is, of course, very valuable advice. How many times have you started a book, knowing nothing about it, but never finishing it just because its opening wasn’t good enough? A few times? Yeah me too. But let’s not look at the bad ones. (Maybe that can be another post. My english teacher once read out some examples of stories from past students of his, that he found were both terrible and hilarious. I might have to go find some…) Here are some of my favourite first lines (in no particular order) I’ve either read myself, or heard of:

“Ironically, since the attacks, the sunsets have been glorious.”
Angelfall by Susan Ee

The Angelfall books are quite good, very interesting, (a bit underrated if you ask me), and defied a lot of stereotypes. While initially, it was the cover that caught my eye, once I read the first line, I was pretty much hooked from there on in.

“The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

This one’s definitely one of my favourites – both book and first line!!

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
1984 by George Orwell

I have yet to actually read this one, but it’s getting very close to the top of my pile, and I’ve heard this quote many a time. I think it captures people, just because of how it normal it starts out, and how very alien it ends.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Oh how I love this one!! When I read this the first time, I don’t remember commenting on it, but after re-reading it again recently, I actually laughed. Just because it’s the exact line school teachers tell you never to use. I don’t know whether they say that because of this book, or whether L’Engle used it because teachers say it, but I love it.

“There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.”
Me Before You Jojo Moyes

This one’s not exactly the first line of the book, because there’s a prologue, but it’s the first line of chapter 1. At first, it’s interesting, but not too notable… until you get to the platform shoes. That makes it for me.

“It was a pleasure to burn.”
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is just one of the ones that makes you go, “Wait what?” A very unconventional start, to quite a unconventional book

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The simplicity is what makes this one so effective. It introduces the main character, the setting of Middle Earth, and links Lord of the Rings in, all at the same time.

“First the colours. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least how I try.

 ~Here is a small fact~
You are going to die.
The Book Thief 
by Markus Zusak

I realise that this is actually quite a few lines, but it’s worth it. The many simple sentences all work together, and then the bit underneath is, again the “Wait, what?” I really love those little bolded bits in The Book Thief, and how they almost tell their own story.

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams’ has quite a few one-liners that ultimately make this book what it is. I also love: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” I quote that one all the time!!

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This one’s another recent read for me – one I absolutely loved!! One of the major reasons I enjoyed it so much was the language used, showcased perfectly in this first line.

“Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.”
Bird by Crystal Chan

Juxtaposed quotes really capture the audience’s attention, especially when they’re the first line. The blurb, title, and first line, all add together to create the almost creepy atmosphere of this book.

“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Not my favourite quote from the series, but still a pretty awesome first line! You don’t hear much else about Joost, but he certainly makes for an interesting introduction.

“I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher”
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Aaaand last one, is (not actually the first line, per se, but first chapter name) Percy Jackson. How could I not include Riordan’s hilarious one-liners?? Seriously, this entire book- no, series – is filled with laughs!

And there we have it. I hope you enjoyed this wonderful list, as I certainly did. Maybe you’re even looking at Sizzling Starts with new eyes now! Looking back over books and finding old favourites is super fun!! If you have any of your own, definitely add them in the comments below!! I’ll be looking out for some good ones! 🙂


May Wrap Up

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Hello again!! Winter is here, for me in Australia, and I am so looking forward to the holidays!! Not just because I get rid of all these assignments and exams, but because then I can curl up with a cuppa, possibly a cat, and READ!! I’m also going skiing in the holidays, which is going to be lots of fun, but we’ll talk about that another time. For today, I bring you my May Wrap-up!!

I actually can not believe that we are already in June. This is crazy! In terms of books, how did everyone go? I’m quite proud of my readings this month, myself finishing a total of 7 books:

The Goldfinch: Finally, finally, got to the last page of this book, and even though it took me forever, I’d say it was worth it. The language was a masterpiece, though the plot, at times, was a bit tiresome.

And I Darken: I received this book for Easter (an awesome Easter present, I know!), and had heard some pretty good things about it. I also, really, really enjoyed it. It’s almost like a retelling of Vlad the Impaler, with certain elements mixed up and switched around.

Defy the Stars: Oh, this book. I loved it. Could not put it down, but I don’t know why either. There are obvious parts where it’s not the best, but I fell in love with the characters and how they interacted, straight away. I think that’s why I loved it so much.

Shadow and Bone: And onto the Grisha Trilogy I went. Bit late in reading this, and I read Six of Crows beforehand, so that’s a bit backwards, but it was still enjoyable. Nowhere near as good as Six of Crows (for me anyway), but still a very good book and story.

Siege and Storm: This one is my least favourite of the Grisha books, but in saying that, it’s still not bad. I feel like there wasn’t a lot happening in this one, whereas in the other two, lots of action took place.

Ruin and Rising: Another awesome book from Leigh Bardugo! I think my favourite of the Grisha books is Shadow and Bone, but this isn’t too far behind. This whole series is a must read for anyone who likes young adult, or fantasy.

A Monster Calls: This one’s by Patrick Ness, and although I’d heard about it, it wasn’t on my TBR list. It was only because I saw it at the library that I decided to try it, and see what it was all about. And I’m telling you, if it isn’t already, put this on your reading list!! Written for a younger audience, this is still a very powerful book, with so many lessons, and so much emotion, all wrapped up in a clever story!! I loved it, from first page, until the end.

Talon: I didn’t finish this one in May, but I’m halfway through, so I’m going to include it anyway. After Legion’s (Talon #4) release, I decided to re-read the entire series, as I’d kinda forgotten what happened in each one.

Onto the Haul!! May wasn’t too big of a month for buying books, but I just heard some very exciting information. The Lifeline Bookfest is coming back in June!!! Yay!! I absolutely love going, and we usually get lots and lots and lots of books every time. I think it may be time for a shelf-rearrange…

May Haul:

  • Shadow and Bone
  • Siege and Storm
  • Ruin and Rising
  • Legion

I’ve already read most of those ones, only got Legion to go. It looks like I’m going to have to buy some more books soon… Mwa ha ha… There were lots of big releases in May, so I’m going to list a few. No. 1, I still haven’t read, but it was the most anticipated, so I’d better put it up:

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas
    • This is the one everyone’s been waiting for. Finally it’s here, and I’m yet to start the series. I’ll get to it eventually, but apparently, it is very good, (It is Sarah J. Maas, what can I say?) so if you haven’t heard of it, I recommend checking it out
  • Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
    • Author of The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh released this one in May, and people are loving it. It’s one of the highest ranking books released in May, which is saying something because there are lots of big ones.
  • Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) – Cassandra Clare
    • And it’s here!! I loved Lady Midnight, more than I thought I would, and after finishing, immediately needed the next one. I think I might do another re-read, and then go onto this one.
  • The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) – Rick Riordan
    • Any Rick Riordan fans out there?? Not many people I know read his books anymore, but I still enjoy their fast-paced energy and humour. I haven’t started the Trials of Apollo yet, as I’m waiting for them all to come out first (Riordan has a tendency to finish books on cliffhangers… *cough, cough* Mark of Athena *cough, cough*)

All finished for May, so let’s get on with June. I would like to read Lord of Shadows this month, and possible All the Light we Cannot See, but we’ll see. What are you reading?? Have any thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned above?? Don’t be afraid to comment your ideas and thoughts below!!


Broken Battlements, Women in Distress, and the Supernatural:

“I, myself, am… Strange and unusual” – Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)

After recently reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and also watching Twilight, Dracula Untold, and Nosferatu for English, I keep finding myself returning to gothic thoughts. So, firstly to get it off my mind and into words, (and secondly to start drafting for my english assignment), I thought I might write a post about it. The first question you have to ask yourself is:

What is gothic?


The initial themes of the genre developed in the late 18th century, as a reaction from the Enlightenment Period. This was a time when European politics, philosophy, science and communications, radically changed. Gothic literature built of the ‘already-there’ horror aspects of human nature, and used people’s fears to create monstrous, evil beings. The gothic novel originated in England, 1765, with the publication of The Castle of Otranto. The author, Horace Walpole created and used elements of mystery, suspense, dark, gloomy settings, and women in distress. These themes all sound a bit out-dated nowadays, and surely modern society’s values, attitudes and beliefs have changed? But from the examples I have read/watched, I have concluded that actually, contemporary gothic conforms to the traditional form to a large extent. The setting is still very similar, the damsel in distress is still a main theme, and even though the depiction of vampires has changed, the evil, supernatural being is still there.

Not all gothic novels are the same, though they all show certain gothic elements, one of those being the setting. While Twilight, isn’t set in a high, looming castle, it does have other aspects that conform to the traditional. For example, at the beginning of the movie, Bella mentions that, “Thick fog was all I could see out my window… You could never see the sky….” This mysterious atmosphere continues throughout the movie, instilling a feeling of fear or uneasiness. Dracula Untold also has clear examples showcasing the eerie atmosphere, such as the jagged, rocky cave in which the Vampire lives. Stoker’s Dracula of course displays these themes, with descriptions of Castle Dracula on page 22: “…the courtyard of a vast, ruined castle, from whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.” I absolutely love this description, and it serves as evidence that modern gothic texts still conform to the traditional.

Another common theme is women in distress. Whether it be traditional, such as Dracula, or contemporary, like Twilight and Dracula Untold, women will always find themselves in a position where they are threatened by a man more powerful than them. Two quotes from Dracula show just how vulnerable Lucy and Mina are. During a meeting, Professor Van Helsing states that, “…it won’t do to leave Mrs Harker alone after sunset.” While he is just being protective of her, this also implies that he doesn’t believe Mina can look after herself. The second quote is from Dracula himself, and it displays how the women in Victorian times were owned by men: “Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine.” In Meyer’s Twilight, the woman is also portrayed as the constant victim, while the man, the constant hero. Edward, the powerful male, is always lurking nearby, ready to save the vulnerable Bella. This is also the same in Dracula Untold. Vlad’s wife is almost uncontrollable in her panic and distress when her son is taken from her.

There have been some changes over time to the supernatural element, but the overall antagonist is still very similar. In all three examples of the gothic text, the main supernatural event, or character is the vampire. A description of Dracula on page 458 displays Stoker’s evil character: “His eyes flamed red with devilish passion; the great nostrils of the high aquiline nose opened wide and quivered at the edges; and the white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth, champed together like those of a wild beast.” Again, another amazing description, and obviously, Stoker wanted to create his character as evil as can be, by mixing all sorts of horrible characteristics into one. In Dracula Untold, the older vampire who gives Vlad his powers is also a hideous beast, showing no compassion at all. And last, but certainly not least, there are Twilight’s vampires; human-looking, protective Edward, and the much more evil, sadistic James. While the depiction of these vampires has changed in many aspects, for example the human looking face, and normal shaped teeth, the thoughts behind the antagonist are still the same, threatening women to drink their blood. Again, almost no difference at all between traditional, and contemporary gothic.

Coming from two different eras, these three examples of gothic texts show remarkably similar elements. A suspenseful, gloomy atmosphere is found in all three, there is always a female character in danger or in distress, and the sinister, impulsive vampires, satisfying themselves by threatening women, are still the main antagonist. Therefore, can’t it be concluded that contemporary gothic texts from the present, are still conforming to gothic elements that were displayed in the past? I truly believe so, yes. You could argue that Twilight is not the best choice from the gothic genre, but it still displays the themes. The only question now is whether this will change in the future?

Rate this post if you feel like it!! 🙂


April Wrap Up

Hello Bookworms!! I hope you’re all well. It’s been a bit of a busy month for me, with school, assignments, and dancing eisteddfods, not leaving time for much else. During April, I didn’t read too much, which is disappointing, but there was quite a haul of both books, and pop vinyl figures. I also went and saw Beauty and the Beast which was amazing! What did everyone else think of it?

Now, the only books that I read in April were these three. I’m still going on the Goldfinch, but not because it’s slow or boring. It’s just there’s a lot of information to take in, and it doesn’t have a storyline that hooks you. For anyone else who has read it, you’ll understand that it’s more of a literary book, with amazing language, and to appreciate it properly, you have to read it slow. Other than that, I really enjoyed Caraval, (review on the link), and Fantastic Beasts was great as well. I’ll hopefully be posting reviews for both Fantastic Beasts and The Goldfinch soon.

  • Caraval
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them
  • The Goldfinch (almost finished)


For the haul, I bought or received eight books this month, which is quite a haul for me. And I’m really looking forward to some of them! Once I finish The Goldfinch, I’m going to have a hard time picking which one to read first. Hopefully I can read a bit more in May, so I can get through more books. Also the Beauty and the Beast book is SO BEAUTIFUL! It’s amazing, and even has interactive illustrations inside.

  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • The End – Lemony Snicket
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J. K. Rowling
  • The Beauty and the Beast – Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
  • And I darken – Kiersten White
  • All the Light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
  • The Pirate Planet – Douglas Adams
  • The DC Comics Encyclopaedia – Daniel Wallace & Scott Beatty


What an exciting list! I’m going to have to slowly work my way through them, which is going to be hard with all these amazing new books being released as well! So many books, so little time!! It’s a very real issue. I’m going to be listing the books that were released in April this time, because they’re so much easier to find books. And, because they’ve already been released, I can have a chance to pick the well-reviewed ones. So, in April there were:

  • Legion – Julie Kagawa (Talon #4)
    • I really enjoy Kagawa’s books, including the Iron Fey, and her Immortal Rules series, but what annoys me is her tendency to take forever to release the next book in a series!! So, finally, here is number 4 in her Talon series. If you like young adult, mixed with fantasy and dragons, you’ll like this one.
  • Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer
    • This book is going to be a new retelling of Cinderella, and it sounds really, really interesting. It’s also got some very high reviews on Goodreads, so it should be pretty good
  • Red Sister – Mark Lawrence
    • This one’s second on the Goodreads list for released in April, and people are really loving it. I want to check it out, and if anyone’s read it, be sure to tell me how you found it!
  • Defy the Stars – Claudia Gray
    • This one’s like a science fiction, fantasy mixture that’s set in space, in the future, but sounds like it has some pretty cool ideas in it. I might read this soon…
  • The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
    • This is a new contemporary book that was featured in multiple book boxes, which is probably how it got its name. And the review everywhere all say it’s amazing, breaking the rules of the usual book, discussing issues not really touched on, and including minority groups as the main characters.

Phew! Long post! I’ll be reviewing The Goldfinch soon, and be on the lookout for more posts in May. Lots of books to read 🙂 . It makes me happy. Keep reading!



Author: Stephanie GarberCaraval_final cover (1).jpg

Pages: 407

Genre: Fantasy, magic, YA, romance

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.


Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Valuable advice to not just the characters. The story of Caraval sweeps you up quickly, and doesn’t let go easily. While I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t until after I’d finished, that I started to see all the faults. The intense plot distracts you from the rest of the book, it seems.

So. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this book. I like it, but then I go through it again in my head, and it’s back in a negative light. But, I definitely enjoyed it while I was reading it. It was a very fun experience. I want to make that clear. (Also, look how pretty the cover is??! That was what piqued my interest in the first place)

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

When I look back on it, and go through plot, characters, setting, it all seems to go pear-shaped. Firstly, plot… (Let’s get the negative bit over with) It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. It sounded very promising, up until the crazy twists and turn. By the end of the book, I actually didn’t know what was going on. Details kept being changed, and more things added in, until the villain was no longer the villain at all. It was a bit hard to keep up with. After I’d finished, I did manage to sort out what was happening, but was still left wanting more. Luckily, there is a second book! Even after this little complaint, I still want the next one. Surely that must mean something.

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Ok next: characters. The facts; interesting on the outside, very little development (except for one). Again, it’s like a thin layer of good book on the outside, but when go deeper, you discover it’s actually not that good of a quality book. The main character, Scarlett, started out as likeable, if a bit on the cautious side, but that’s not a bad thing. (I can be pretty cautious sometimes too) But once the male character was introduced, the interesting, well-told story-line, kept getting interrupted by the old fairy-tale belief that she needs to be saved by him.

Blah, blah, blah.

Come on Scarlett, you can do better than this!! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really enjoy books with strong female leads…) By the end, once everything was twisted around, she started to become a little better, but her sister, on the other hand, was interesting all the way through. Tella had her own beliefs and plans, and didn’t wait for permission to implement them. While this became annoying in some ways, we do need some complications other than the climax. So characters were a mixture of interesting, well-thought-out, confusing, and annoying. There’s just so much happening in this book!

It’s almost as if Garber has tried a little too hard, and added in too many aspects, and that makes the writing messy. For example, it was a confusing concept to begin with, and then magic is involved, and then double-sided characters, and then on top of that, Scarlett has this random ability to sense feelings in colours. It’s so random. This little talent is not introduced, or explained at all, it’s just there, and pops up in random points in the story. I found that a little strange.

“Shades of the rich ruby love she’d felt during the game mixed with hues of deep-indigo hurt, turning everything just a little bit violet.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

All, in all, I’d say it’s the perfect young adult book, designed to keep people reading. A great setting, what started out as great characters, and an enjoyable read, until you start filing through it in your head. I think, by my rating policy, I’m going to give it 4 stars. The writing structure could definitely have been better, but I would certainly still recommend to people. If you have read it, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them all below in the comments. 🙂

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

Hello again Bookworms!!

I apologise for being really inactive on my blog at the moment. I’ve really only been posting reviews, and wrap-ups, which is alright I guess, but this year I really wanted to post bit more. So, here I am, doing a little life-update.

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My friends and I spent a day in the city yesterday (Brisbane), and bought a couple of books, as well as some other little things from the mall. Also during the trip, we stopped in at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), which is what the pictures are of above. I just love the atmosphere at GOMA, and each of the art pieces. Many of them, because they are more modern, are a bit hard to understand, but with the right attitude and reading the statements above each piece, you can really appreciate them. And they’re all nice to look at as well.

After we left GOMA, it was time for a little shopping along the Queen St Mall, stopping in to shops here and there. Along the way, the topic of books was brought up, and after that, we just couldn’t stop. Since starting this blog, and my bookstagram account, I’ve heard of so many new books, and whether they have good reviews or bad. And so, yesterday, I passed on some of my newly-found wisdom to my friends. I convinced them to read some books I absolutely loved, introduced them to some new ones, and they did the same for me. All in all, it was a good fun conversation, that lasted for quite some time.

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Once we started looking in stores, and found the book section however, I found that the conversation would have probably been best to have after shopping. This is because, we found every. single. book. that we spoke about. And did I have enough money to buy them all? Nope. I had to force myself to look the other way while I purchased my one novel, leaving all the others behind. Don’t worry though… I will be back…

Now onto the exciting part!! While the rest of the day had been lovely, there is just something magical about bookstores, isn’t there? And especially this bookstore. In the hour we had to kill before catching our train home, one of my friends pulled up google maps, and searched for local bookstores. (What great bookworms we are!!) And the closest one that came up was Archives Fine Books. After she said the name, I realised that I had actually been there before, and basically just started walking there straight away, no hesitation at all. Here are some pics:

Who could resist going there??! Definitely not me! If anyone’s ever in Brisbane, be sure to check it out. (40 Charlotte St, Brisbane City QLD 4000)

And there we go, my little life update is just about over. Other than shopping in the city, I’ve been camping, so there’s been very little time for reading. I’m still not even halfway through The Goldfinch, so I’d best get onto that. The April Wrap-Up is looking a bit bare at the moment.

Have fun reading!!




March Wrap-Up

Hey everyone!! You know what time it is… school’s over and it’s holiday time. March is over, so let’s get on with the Wrap Up!!

I had a relatively good month for reading in March, although not all of them were good. In total, there were seven books, one of which was below the 3-star mark. But it wasn’t all bad, because seven books is pretty good for four weeks!! And I bought a few as well. The books read in March include:

Quite a selection of genres, including early sci-fi, realism, classic, and adventure. I’ve got to say; I didn’t enjoy Dracula as much as I thought I would. It went on for too long, and I just got very bored of it. And I also realised this month that I hadn’t read the original Alice in Wonderland. I thought that I most definitely had, but it turns out that was the book written after the movie. And boy, is there a difference! I won’t go into too much detail before the review, and I’ve got nothing against Disney movies, but they either missed a lot of details, or got a lot of things wrong, because the movie is barely the same story.


Okay, time for the haul. Don’t you just love market book stalls? Especially when books are $3.00-$5.00 each!! The haul was nothing special, but it felt so nice to buy a few from the local market. And I even found books I was looking for. All up it was 3 books, and 3 pop-vinyls, including:

  • The Martian – Andy Weir
  • Renegade’s Magic – Robin Hobb
  • The Golden Fool – Robin Hobb
  • Jareth figure
  • Miss Peregrine figure
  • Severus Snape figure


And last part of the wrap-up, the releases. Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to read different types of books, and as a result, have fallen a bit behind in the more popular young adult books. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s possible I could miss some of the releases for the month, because I might not recognise the series. I’ll try my best though, to list the big ones coming out. Here are April’s:

  • Legion – Julie Kagawa (Talon #4)
    • I really enjoy Kagawa’s books, including the Iron Fey, and her Immortal Rules series, but what annoys me is her tendency to take forever to release the next book in a series!! So, finally, here is number 4 in her Talon series. If you like young adult, mixed with fantasy and dragons, you’ll like this one.
  • Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer
    • This book is going to be a new retelling of Cinderalla, and it sounds really, really interesting. It’s also got some very high reviews on Goodreads, so should be a pretty good read… (see what I did there…?)
  • Red Sister – Mark Lawrence
    • I’ve only just heard about this one, so can’t really tell you much about it. It’s another fantasy, young adult, first-book-in-the-series, which also has some very good reviews on Goodreads.
  • Defy the Stars – Claudia Gray
    • This one’s like a science fiction, fantasy mixture that’s set in space, in the future, but sounds like it has some pretty cool ideas in it. I might read this once it’s out…

And there we go; all done for March. Gee this year is moving quickly. It’s already holidays for me, and it feels like I only just started. Don’t forget to go check out my Instagram page if you would like a new account to follow. I’m starting a new theme for April, which should be interesting. Have a good day, and until next time everyone!

The Da Vinci Code

Author: Dan Brown DaVinciCode

Pages: 481

Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller, historical

An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Thoughts: Finally read another of the Robert Langdon series, which I’ve been meaning to for a while now. I enjoy these books, contrary to a lot of other beliefs, mostly because of the frequent references to symbols and mythology. (Surprise, surprise) I definitely wouldn’t say they were my favourite, (although Da Vinci Code was better than Inferno, in my opinion), but they’re good enough for a quick weekend, or holiday read.

“Everyone loves a conspiracy.”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown’s books are known for their ability to hook readers in, and both books of his that I’ve read, definitely lived up to that. In Inferno, it felt a bit forced, while Da Vinci Code seemed more natural in its cliff-hangers which is good. It wasn’t as if each chapter ended in the middle of a sentence, but like it was actually as perplexing as he made it seem. Sure, it made me want to keep reading, but the complications and cliffhangers were a lot more reasonable and believable. (most of the time)

“Telling someone about what a symbol means is like telling someone how music should make them feel.”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

So this book is mostly set in Paris, with a little in England, and Landon rushes around to a lot of the museums and statues. Having been to Paris and England myself, and loved all of the artworks displayed in the Louvre, I really enjoyed all the references. I’m sure a few of you know I’m a bit of a mythology and history fanatic (My name’s Isis, the blog’s name is Book Goddess), and it was good to be able to know what all the characters were talking about. I even deciphered one of the codes before Langdon did!!!

“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

Again, as I’ve said before, Dan Brown’s writing style isn’t the greatest. I found this book was pretty good with its language uses, (better than Inferno, once again), it wasn’t too painful for most of the book. At times, it had some pretty complex descriptions of things. But, at other times, it did sound downright average. (e.g. quote below) Again, it’s not like it was impossible to read, and it doesn’t impact my view of the book very much, but the writing could be improved greatly. I will also say that the ending seemed a little weak for me. It was great most of the time, with multiple twists and turns, but then after the climax, it had a really boring finish.

“Her eyes were olive green―incisive and clear.”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

This review’s pretty short compared to most of my others. I guess there isn’t much to say about it really. I’d say it would be a good read for most people, because it moves quickly and almost includes the reader on the adventure. Because it explains so many of the ideas and theories, you feel like you’re on the run with the characters, figuring out codes and following clues along the way. A good book for when you’re on a plane actually. It didn’t leave a large impact on me, like other literary masterpieces do, but it was fun while I was reading it. If I had the book open, it was fine, and I was hooked most of the time, so it was hard to put it down. And then when I did manage to put it down, I didn’t really feel the urge to pick it back up, just because it didn’t seem that important.

Rating: star_rating_3_of_5

The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Pages: 369The_Martian_2014

Genre: Sci-fi, fiction, comedy

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Habitat breaches, I’ll just kind of explode.

If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

I’m screwed.

Thoughts: This review’s been a little time in the coming, but it’s finally here. I saw The Martian as a movie first, and really enjoyed it. I then learned there was a book, and needed to read it. And, I think the movie did a very good job of portraying the characters, and the storyline. Basically, for anyone who hasn’t read or seen it, the Ares 3 crew landed on Mars, but had to abort their mission early, due to an unexpected storm. On their way over to the MAV (their ride home), Mark Watney is hit by flying debris and whisked away by the wind. The rest of the crew, thinking him dead, and under strict orders to leave, have no choice but to leave him there. But Mark did not die, and is now stranded on Mars. It was a really fun read, that made me laugh out loud many, many times, while also conveying enough worry for me to be on the edge of my seat.

“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
What do you know? I’m in command”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

From the opening line, I got Mark Watney’s character down pat. He has a very recognisable way of speaking… Like this! All the time!! With heaps of funny lines that will definitely be quoted! And he narrates most of the book. It does sound like it would get a bit tiresome after a while, but not for me. I really enjoyed reading it. The other parts of the book were either around NASA (on Earth), or the rest of the Ares 3 crew, (who are still on their way back to Earth). I really liked their parts, because all the characters were so developed, and had certain ways of acting. They seemed like real people, who I really would’ve liked to meet. There was just something satisfying about their conversations and the way they interacted with another, made smooth through Weir’s way with words. These chunks of the book broke up Watney’s, which is possibly why I didn’t get too tired of it. The only thing that could’ve made it better, is more of these parts, because I really, really enjoyed them.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

An aspect of The Martian that really amazes me, is the amount of research that went into it. There are crazy amounts of maths formulas involved, as Watney’s trying to figure out how to survive. On top of that, just general NASA knowledge, and terminology, like the Hab, the MAV, and EVA, and as well as that, the solutions to his major issues, for example growing food, repairing the oxygenator, or communicating with Earth. So yes, there was a lot of research that went into the book, so it would seem more realistic and plausible. And apparently, most of what he wrote was largely correct. (Not that I went through and checked everything. That would have taken forever) Which leads me to my next point: There was a lot of it. A lot of rambling on about ‘how this would mean that this thing has to be changed, which would affect that, and that cannot be changed, so scrap that idea, and form a new one.’ It’s written as if an astronaut had written it, which is essentially what it was meant to be, but I’m not going to lie. After the first few chapters, once it got to these parts, I would just skim over it, and then start reading properly when it finished. It wasn’t like it was badly written, it would just jumble everything up, and I couldn’t keep up. I appreciate the sheer amount of research that went into it, and feel like it wouldn’t have been the same book without all the realistic factors, but it just got a bit too much.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

It is not the amazingly-written book I’ve read, but the genre and style of story it is didn’t need it to be. It’s meant to be a collection on Watney’s thoughts as he logs his survival on Mars. This means it isn’t perfect English, there are jokes everywhere, he makes up names for people and things (kilowatt-hour per sol later becomes known as a ‘pirate-ninja’), and there are lots of short and jumbled sentences. It helps if you read it as if he was actually speaking it, which much easier if you’ve seen the movie.

“If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

Sorry if all these quotes are annoying, I really love them all!! I had to narrow it down just for the review. Essentially, the best part was the continuous humour. Slightly unrealistic at times, but still, enough things went wrong that it still seemed plausible. It was a good, fun, easy read that I think everyone would enjoy. (although: language warning) To sum up, there were developed characters, who were all fun to read about, a thrilling story that had lots of ups and downs, it was very well researched, and the writing was light and easy. Also, did I mention, hilarious!!

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally hum
an that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkinsthe-girl-on-the-train

Pages: 325

Genre: Thriller, contemporary, mystery, crime, fiction

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

So, I did intend to write this review a while ago, but time has really gotten away from me. Drowning in study and assignments at the moment, and writing this now, I’m sort of procrastinating. But anyway, I’ve got quite a few thoughts on The Girl on the Train. Let’s see, where to start…

I thought this sounded like an interesting idea when I got the gist of the storyline, and if were done well, I think it would have been really cool. But the writing was just really boring and clumsy that it took away from the story. It started off a little depressing and slow, and by the time the ‘exciting’ bit had begun, I was already turned away.

“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”
― Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train

One thing I absolutely hated was the characters. There was literally nothing to like about them. Three women narrate this story, Rachel, Anna, and Megan, and it starts off with Rachel. Let’s just say she’s a very bad alcoholic. In some parts, I got the feeling that I might be able to feel sorry for her, as she did seem to have pretty rotten luck, but she was also the weakest person in the entire world at some points as well. It got very tiresome very quickly, when she just went back to drinking every time a problem arose. If she’d just stayed sober, maybe she would have figured it out a lot quicker… Just a slight feeling I’m getting….

Then there is Anna, who is just mean and generally un-likeable throughout the entire story. Not much else that is interesting about her. And then Megan. I thought she was okay at the start of the book, and she seemed like the only likeable character, but then as the book progressed, more things were brought up about her past, and what she did, and she ended up being just as bad as the other two. So, all the women are pretty lousy in my perspective, and I’m not sure the author wanted it this way or not. Maybe she planned for them all to be weak and unpleasant, but I would have appreciated it if there was at least one strong female.

“When did you become so weak?” I don’t know. I don’t know where that strength went, I don’t remember losing it. I think that over time it got chipped away, bit by bit, by life, by the living of it.”
― Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train

Despite all this ranting, I still think the storyline had a good idea and theme to it, and I wanted to know how it was going to end. Being a murder mystery, there are heaps of people saying they figured it out in the first 3 chapters and all that, but I’m actually terrible at that sort of thing. So, I can’t really say it was predictable. But, it wasn’t as much of a shock as I thought it might be, which led to it being quite weak in my opinion. And then everything after that was also a bit short and lacking as well. I feel like it needed more, because the answer was just revealed, and then it basically finished. No resolutions were made. The characters were all still boring. There was just no real development over the entire book. The characters were just going round and round in circles for most of it.

“I want to drag knives over my skin, just to feel something other than shame, but I’m not even brave enough for that”
― Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train

Alright, I’m done. I guess you got the picture that I didn’t really like this book. The only reason it would be OK is because the ending kept me guessing, although in the end, it wasn’t that much of a shock anyway. It’s sort of like the cheap reality TV shows, that have bad acting and the storyline is so boring because nothing ever happens. Yeah, I’m going to liken it to that. It’s watchable, but after a while, it does get tiresome.

Rating: star_rating_2_of_5