Friday Face-Off – 14th December 2018

Friday Face-Off – 14th December 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a crown: ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown.’

For this theme I’ve picked Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.

Cover A:

crown1

Cover B:

crown2

Cover C:

Der Schwarze ThronDie Schwestern von Kendare Blake

Cover D:

crown4

Cover E:

cown5

Cover F:

crown6

Cover G:

crown7

Cover H:

crown8

And the winner is… COVER H!

All of the other covers feature ornate, detailed crown designs, some of which are brilliant. With cover H though, the design is eye catching. The way the water splash forms the shape of a crown with the vivid colours on the dark background.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover for the festive season: ‘Ho, Ho, Ho!’

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Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

London is a city on wheels – a future city like you’ve never known before. In the terrible aftermath of the Sixty Minute War, cities which survived the apocalypse became predators, chasing and feeding on smaller towns. Now London is hunting down its prey, getting ready to feed. But as the chase begins, Tom uncovers a secret – a secret full of deadly consequences. Soon he is plunged into a world of unkillable enemies, threatened by a weapon that will tear his life apart…

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading.

I purchased the full series of these books some time ago and with the release of the film of the same title now seemed the most opportune moment to give it a read. Mortal Engines offers up a blend of steampunk set within a post apocalyptic future vision of Earth. In a world destroyed by war, resources became limited and coveted by all. Many of the settlements, towns and cities became mobile – roving the scarred wastes in search of much needed materials. The largest settlements prey upon anything smaller, harvesting them while smaller towns feast on any scraps left behind.287861I was hooked early on. Reeve’s descriptive style captivated me, really immersing me in the story. The “good guys” are relatable and likeable, riddled with character flaws and failings even though they mean well. The villains of the series are utterly loathsome – from the deluded Mayor Crome, the self-loving Thaddeus Valentine to the part-machine assassin Shrike. The characters have been created so well I found myself loving and loathing them as their arcs unfold.

The plot is well defined, and the world building throughout is excellent. The details really bring to life a ravaged world filled with scavengers, hunters and people desperate to survive in peace. Twists appear throughout the story and are used to good effect without ever feeling like they are there just because. Character motivations ebb and flow and reveal themselves at just the right time and where relevant to the storyline.

Mortal Engines ticked all the boxes from the first page to the last. I loved the world and locations so vividly brought to life – a vibrant, dangerous futuristic world of survival and power. It sated my need for a well-written steampunk novel without overplaying its hand. I am looking forward to seeing how the story develops in the three books that follow Mortal Engines.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 7th December 2018

Friday Face-Off – 7th December 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a hero: ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’

This weeks’ book is The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.

Cover A:

hero1

Cover B:

hero2

Cover C:

hero3

Cover D:

hero4

Cover E:

hero5

Cover F:

hero6

Cover G:

hero7

And the winner is… COVER E!

I love this, the steampunk style mechanical dragon staring down at the hero. That dragon looks incredible, and the sense of reverence with which it appears to look at the figure with adds an air of heroism to the character.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a crown: ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown.’

Friday Face-Off – 30th November 2018

Friday Face-Off – 30th November 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a vampire: ‘..the children of the night. What music they make!’

This weeks’ book is ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.

Cover A:

vampire1

Cover B:

vampire2

Cover C:

vampire3

Cover D:

vampire4

Cover E:

vampire5

Cover F:

vampire6

Cover G:

vampire7

Cover H:

vampire8

And the winner is… COVER E!

Another dark and moody cover, with a hint of mystery. It’s a book I love but have never seen this cover.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a hero: ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’

A Very Funny Murder Mystery by Paul Mathews

A Very Funny Murder Mystery by Paul Mathews

Untimely death is part of everyday life in the quirky English village of Upper Goosing – European Murder Destination of the Year 2015. And when Lady Peculiar’s butler – a part-time comedian – is found drowned in mango chutney, Detective Inspector Clinton Trump comes blundering onto the scene – ready to shun logic, breach protocol and trust in his own gut instincts.

What will “South East England’s greatest detective” uncover? Is her ladyship a murderess? Was the killer a comedy rival? Or are darker forces at work in this particular corner of Brokenshire? Join our self-proclaimed British detective genius, as he races against time to solve this very funny murder mystery – so he can play in a golf tournament without distraction!

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Self-titled quite funny guy Paul Mathews, whose books have featured regularly on Books and Beyond Reviews, returns with the first book in a new series. Taking a break from Howie Pond in the We Have Lost series, The new series brings us an all new hero – Clinton Trump, South East England’s greatest detective. A Very Funny Murder Mystery takes us to Upper Goosing in Brokenshire, a quaint, chocolate box English village that just so happens to be home to a higher than average rate of murders.
42140765In the upper class of the village, a ladies curry night ends with the murder of the manor butler, drowned in his own mango chutney. Detective Inspector Clinton Trump with all the confidence a man who would bestow himself the title of greatest detective in the region arrives to take charge of the case and solve it by the end of the week so that he might enjoy a golf tournament at the weekend undisturbed.

In much a similar fashion to the We Have Lost series of books, the investigation is riddled with twists and turns and thanks to the overconfidence of Clinton Trump, his dislike at having to work with sidekick Constable Dinkel, an overbearing boss and a passionate desire to dodge work and get out to the golf course and often descends into farcical comedy. In his now typical style, Mathews manages to poke fun at just about anything possible – from American tourists and upper class dinner parties to self-important detective inspectors and a fantastic laugh at the expense of Russian visitors to Salisbury Cathedral. And in a humorous twist we even get an entertaining chapter seen through the eyes of Trump’s long suffering cats.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the We Have Lost series of books from Paul Mathews I held high hopes for this latest outing. Once again the genre, this time mystery rather than spy, has been taken and butchered with the bluntest of hatchets into something that could never be accused of taking itself too seriously. Mathews brings the laughs, creates colourful characters who all have relatable problems and puts them into laughable situations creating the beginning of what looks to be a brilliantly funny new series.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 23rd November 2018

Friday Face-Off – 23rd November 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a mermaid or merman: ‘The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince!’

This week I went for Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Little Mermaid.

Cover A:

mermaid1

Cover B:

mermaid2

Cover C:

mermaid3

Cover D:

mermaid4

Cover E:

mermaid5

Cover F:

mermaid6

Cover G:

mermaid7

Cover H:

mermaid8

Cover I:

mermaid9

And the winner is… COVER I!

I can’t really explain why this one spoke to me so much, but something about it resonated with me. The colours and the classic art style is really appealing.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover featuring a vampire: ‘..the children of the night. What music they make!’

The Azrael Initiative by K Hanson

The Azrael Initiative by K Hanson

Best friends Kayla Falk, an engineering student, and Olivia Bellamy, who is studying nursing, are nearing the end of their college career when terrorists attack their university. Through a combination of cleverness, bravery, and luck, the two manage to foil the deadly plot. A mysterious man from the United States government, Mr. Hightower, sees their potential and attempts to recruit Kayla and Olivia for a program to take on ISIS. They initially refuse, but another terrorist attack that strikes close to home pushes them to change their minds and join the Azrael Initiative.

After several months of hard training, the two women are dropped into Al-Raqqah, the capital of ISIS, in Syria. Once there, they must blend in with the locals as they strike from the shadows to kill ISIS leaders, destroy their facilities, and free captives. As Americans deep within enemy territory, they know that they will be killed if discovered. As women, they also know that they would suffer before death. Walking the line between vengeance and justice strains their relationship. As they work to resolve their differences, the symphony of brutality around them ultimately pushes them closer together and forges them into the warriors that they were meant to become.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Upon reading the premise of this book I was definitely interested. An action packed adventure dancing with deadly foes with two dangerous female protagonists. In a world filled with Jason Bournes and Jack Reachers, The Azrael Initiative struck me as a potential breath of fresh air. The core setting, Al-Raqqah, the heart of the ISIS Caliphate only heightened the sense of tension and drama to the synopsis of this book.The Azrael InitiativeSadly I felt the book really shot wide of the mark. I felt the author was almost trying too hard. The most mundane of things felt over-described – breakfast, lunch and dinner, tedious elements of the day. That is until the pivotal, life changing terrorist attack on a university completely upends the lives of our two core protagonists, which is swiftly followed by another devastating scene. This sounds fine in principle, but with so much occurring in the first 30 pages or so felt too much for my liking.

The dialogue also felt too stilted. The dialogue between parent and daughter following a potentially deadly terrorist attack was so casual it almost felt like it was just another day. There wasn’t any urgency or concern. Too often characters referred to each other by name, often in the same passage of conversation, and repetitively from sentence to sentence.

Though I wasn’t expecting best-selling, award-winning book I had hoped for more. There were occasional bright spots sprinkled throughout, sadly they were too infrequent in comparison to the heavy doses of implausibility. Elements of the book had a young adult genre vibe about them, and I wonder if that is part of my problem. An expectation of an action-packed thriller, but with YA elements, and never fully being either led to what was something of an anticlimax for me.

My rating:
notforme