Book Review || The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery

Friday, April 9, 2021

 


The Midnight Guardians

Ross Montgomery

3rd September 2020


I had to request this one - there's a badger on the cover! That was probably my main thought when I first saw this book. When it was backed up by a synopsis that sounded interesting, I decided to give it a go.

This was clearly very deeply researched and wanted to convery a sense of the time and place in which it was set for anyone reading it - namely, around and during the time of the Blitz in London. It came across really well and I felt as if the author had done a fantastic job setting the tone to back the entire story - you felt the sense of urgency and dread throughout the novel, and even the smallest details felt relevant.

The story was also filled with whimsy and fun, when it wasn't so intense. These moments of levity really improved my enjoyment of the book, and I loved the banter between the Midnight Guardians sometimes, and the often remarked statement that having a cup of tea was needed for most things. (This tracks with my own experience growing up with two English parents...)


I have to admit, though, that this book didn't always hit the mark for me. Sometimes I found the humour a bit off (this was just a 'me' thing), and I really struggled to get into the book initially. I'm glad I stuck it out, but I do wonder if maybe the first part of the book could have been tightened up a little, or perhaps things could have been explained a little better, because I just wasn't entirely sure I cared initially.


However, this is a lovely book, dealing with real issues, with some beautiful whimsy thrown in. And you really can't go wrong with having a badger as a main character.


8/10 badgers in waistcoats.



I received a review copy of this book from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own.

Book Review || Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Friday, April 2, 2021

 


Ariadne
Jennifer Saint
30th March 2021

This was an absolutely beautiful read: so filled with gorgeous writing and believable explorations of how the women told of in ancient Greek myth may have actually felt about their situations and the circumstances they have been put in due to the actions of Gods, Heroes, and men.

I find myself in the strange position with this book of not really knowing how to describe it. My experience of reading it was truly wonderful - any time that I couldn't be reading it due to health issues I was genuinely sad; whenever I could pick it up, I would find myself looking up an hour later having disappeared completely into the story Saint was telling. The interest in this book was only increased by the fact that my partner is currently playing the game Hades on the Switch, and finding that I could link the people and Gods desribed in the book with the characters depicted on the screen. I think this made my reading experience even more immersive and, well, fun! Thought I caution against thinking this is a fun book (the game definitely is, though).

It is so interesting throughout this book to watch Ariadne's character change and grow, and Phaedra's, too. In fact, every character introduced in the book is given such form, such amazing roundedness. And the emotions that they felt were described in such a way that I could definitely feel them, without them becoming too overwhelming or feeling like the author was trying to push my emotions in a certain way. Masterful writing.

I do have one complaint, however, even though I enjoyed this book so much. I felt as if the character of the Minotaur, Asterion, could have been explored so much more than it was. I liked the little bits that we see of him as a baby, but then he is basically just labelled 'monster' and thrown in the Labyrinth - just something to be feared, that is all. There was such a huge opportunity there to explore the realm of disfigurement, disability, bodily difference! I just felt disappointed that, whilst all the other characters felt so real, Asterion was shunted to the side, given a label, and then mostly ignored, except as a source of fear.

Having said that, I still loved this book so much. Highly recommend.

10/10 bountiful grapes hanging on the vine.


I received a review copy from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own.

Book Review || The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings

Friday, March 26, 2021

 


The Sad Ghost Club

Lize Meddings

27th January 2021


There was a lot I could relate to in this sweet little graphic novel. The indecision and almost crippling anxiety about whether to go out or not. Not knowing whether you're really making friends in the 'right' way (whatever that means). Depression and how it just keeps you down. Feeling like the only awkward one at the party. [Honestly, a lot of this just fits into general anxiety, and it was conveyed quite well here.]

The artwork was also sweet and engaging, without being too distracting from the story.

However (I think you saw this coming), I don't feel like I can rate this one too highly? Perhaps it's simply because this brought up a lot of what I experience myself, and I found it a little confronting, but overall I didn't really feel like this story was doing anything particularly new, or imparting information I didn't already know. I honestly think that this book may be helpful to people - I would say particularly people in their first year of University? As the characters here seemed to fit into that demographic for me - but, for me, it just fell a little flat.

Now, if I could give this to first-year-Uni Beth, that might be a different thing. I have a feeling she would really love to read this.

Overall, not one for me, but still enjoyable.


6/10 sad little ghosties.


I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own.

Smallish Chat

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Hello friends :)

It's been a while, huh? Here, let me get you a cup of something nice, and please, have this seat over here. It is covered in cushions, I know - please just remove whatever you want. Mind the cat, though.

The last time I posted was back in November last year. Now we're heading towards February and my thoughts have been drifting towards things like communication, and how different bodies function, and such. It's been strange for me to go from someone who posted pretty regularly to someone who barely remembers that I used to write at all. It used to be that every time I had a relatively good day with a little bit of energy and wherewithal, I would be sitting down at my computer/laptop/with a bit of paper and pen and jotting something out that had been floating around in my head. Lately, though, it's been more a case of occasionally looking inside my mind and finding virtually nothing, except maybe a few dust-bunnies having an argument about whether I should eat chocolate or cheese next.

Honestly, to me, this sounds an awful lot like burnout. Or depression. Or perhaps both. My mood has swung a bit, and I have days of deep sadness or numbness, but mostly I think I've just not been well enough to even consider writing or being very creative with words. My brain just can't handle it too well. And adding Summer into the mix has just meant that I have had trouble remembering the days too well, or a conversation that I had with my loved ones recently.

So, am I abandoning my blog and my writing completely? No. The short answer to that is definitely no. The slightly longer answer is no, but.... I may not be doing anything with it for a while? Or my writing may be extremely sporadic? For someone that desperately wanted to be published before, I can still notice that dream in me, just waiting at the back of my mind. But, at the moment, I find that I need to focus on just being me. 

And I think that's enough for now.

Love to all who read.


Book Review || The Gentle Wolf by Pia Foxhall

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

 



The Gentle Wolf
{Perth Shifters #2}
Pia Foxhall
13th November 2020

Full transparency: I am friends with and adore the author of The Gentle Wolf. However, all thoughts and feelings on their book are my own. Be warned, though, I have a tendency to gush about their writing. I will try to reel it back a bit for the less gush-inclined reader.

I read, reviewed, and adored the first book in this series, Blackwood, back when it came out last year. (Please find that review here if you'd like to brush up on your Perth Shifters knowledge!} And The Gentle Wolf... I loved even more.

I know, I'm a bit shocked, too. I wasn't sure it was possible to like something more than I enjoyed Blackwood, but I found I connected with the two main characters in this book even more. I have spoken before about how Pia's work is so immersive, and their character creation is just perfect, so you end up feeling like you're experiencing things alongside the characters and just relating to them so hard all the way through. This was even more true for The Gentle Wolf,  as both Aodhan and Thomas were so... real. Not that the previous characters weren't, just that Aodhan and Thomas felt like parts of me by the end of the book.

The storyline was a bit slower for this one, not as action-packed, but I loved this, too. Having both Aodhan and Thomas running their own business, and Aodhan talking about the different chocolates that he makes (I craved chocolate for a full week after I read this book), and the scenes of Australian bushland - it all combined to make such a delightful book that I wanted to savour it, to really be present with each part of the developing relationship, and to be okay that parts of it were making me weep from feeling seen (again. Pia's work does this to me.). Okay I'm getting a bit gushy again, let's move on.

Once again, I will mention that there are content warnings for this book, and this is a m/m paranormal romance, so there's some sexy scenes (which I love - Pia writes such amazing sex scenes wow). For content warnings, Pia has provided a list that you can jump to from a hyperlink near the front of the ebook, but there are some spoilers there as well, just so you know. I chose to be spoiled so I knew the content warnings going in, and I think that was what worked for me, but might not work for others.

Overall, I cannot recommend this enough. I really can't. If you have any interest in paranormal romance, please give this a go. You'll be supporting a lovely author, I promise!

10/10 chocolate truffles flavoured with apple salt and caramel and finger lime and fairy dust.



I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own. Thank you!

Book Review || Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 
Phoenix Extravagant
Yoon Ha Lee
20th October 2020


Right, just before I get into the review proper, let me just say how excited and grateful I am to have received a review copy of this book - this was literally my most anticipated release for 2020, and from an author that has quickly become one of my favourites of all time. I just. So grateful.


Okay, and moving on.


This is Yoon Ha Lee’s first fantasy novel, following on from the amazing science fiction series Machineries of Empire (which I devoured). Following a nonbinary artist (as someone who identifies as nonbinary myself, this was freaking epic) who slowly gets embroiled in a political mystery involving the source of select pigments and a mecha-dragon. I mean, sign me the heck up.


Gyen Jebi, our main character, is someone that I liked immediately upon first reading, but took a little while to really understand. Their life is kind of in a state of frustrating limbo at the start of the book, and you can tell they just want to move forward, but can’t. Their sister is a little bit controlling, but they’re grateful to them for somewhere to live, and they just want to paint and get paid for it. I honestly wondered at the start just how Yoon Ha Lee was going to take Jebi from this beginning to what seemed like a wild ride, if the synopsis was anything to go by.


But, oh. He took them there. Things become intriguing and mysterious and honestly dangerous pretty quickly. The ride just slowly gets more intense, more suspenseful and stressful, and more interesting, until you find yourself kind of turning pages without really being aware of your surroundings (I love it when this happens). And it’s all done with Lee’s sparse, beautiful writing, which I adore. I also fell in love with the mecha-dragon - they become one of my favourite characters, in fact.


I will admit that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I have previous books. I think that might be partly because of when I read it, and having to take a break in the middle of reading. However, I did find two main things that just stopped me from loving this. The first was that some of the characters felt a little one-dimensional, not quite whole - this feeds into my second caveat: there needed to be more of this book. And I don’t just say that as a fan of Lee’s writing (because I will always want more, I think), but because I just felt like certain aspects of the story and characters needed more exploring, more opportunity for understanding. I think just a little more of that might have been perfect for me.


9/10 bright pink mecha-dragons.


I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own.


Butterfly Elephant Update

Saturday, October 17, 2020

 Hi fronds,

I am taking a small break from posting on here (you might have noticed I didn't post on Wednesday) just to focus on my own health for a little. I haven't been able to finish any other review books lately (well, I've DNF'd a couple), and some stressful stuff happening has made it a little bit hard for me to focus on much lately. So I am taking some time to just focus on reading what I want to, and resting as much as I can. I'll be back as soon as possible!


Love to all who read.

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