Darkwood (Gabby Hutchinson Crouch)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

Completely fabulous, can’t wait for the rest of the series. A strong contender for Book of the Month

TL;DR – A funny, clever and wonderful fairytale re-telling.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of fairytales, fantasy and female characters who kick butt!

About the Book…

Darkwood is a sort of fairytale retelling and variety pack. The lead character is Gretel, of Hansel and Gretel fame, driven out of her home by villainous Huntsmen who (wrongly) accuse her of being a witch! Gretel finds herself in the Darkwood, and soon winds up as part of a band of witches, featuring such wonderful characters as The White Knight (Snow White), Jack (of the Beanstalk fame) and my personal favourite, Trevor the Talking Spider. What follows is a hilarious adventure to fight back against the forces of evil!

What I thought…

I flat out adore this book. There are 2 things I didn’t like about it, and I’m gonna start the review with them because then I can gush about how good it was uninterrupted.

  1. The word ‘cowl’ is used to describe clothing with sleeves, which confused me.
  2. It’s written in the present tense, which I’m generally not a fan of. HOWEVER, I will come back to this point in a moment.

OK, where to begin. Let’s start with the setting. I’m a big fan of fairytales and folklore, and combining so many stories into one setting was a real treat for me. Each story has been turned on its head and reimagined, and then blended into something better than the sum of its parts. It’s really clever, well executed and extremely good fun.

And it’s funny! Oh man. I mentioned Trevor the talking spider in the intro and I’m gonna talk about him here. Trevor is *exactly* the type of character I love to read about. He’s small and apparently useless, but he dreams big. He wants to be useful. He wants to be a spy! And every time he gets the chance he does something daft. Like disguises. It’s silly, and playful and I love it.

Now I’m going to return to point 2 of my complaints. Present tense. I don’t like it, it annoys me and I’ve never been able to get over it. Until now. I really love how this book was written. I’m turned around on the use of present tense in writing, which is a big thing for me to admit.

Final Thoughts…

I love this book. I can’t wait for the rest of the series. I suppose the biggest compliment I can give to this book is that it made me want to write the book I’ve been planning for so long. It’s encouraged me to get up and give it a shot!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons (Various)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

Could not finish it.

TL;DR – Not worth the effort to be honest.

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Ragdoll Rating: 0.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Nobody, unless your sense of humour is wildly different to mine.

About the Book…

OK, so this book is a collection of single-panel comics on book-related subjects, featuring works from multiple cartoonists I’ve never heard of (although that in itself isn’t a criticism).

What I thought…

Not much, to be honest. I got two-thirds of the way through this book, laughed ONCE and gave up. The only thing I took away from this book is that it appears to have a serious problem with self-published authors, who wind up being the punchline of several pieces, and quite frankly I haven’t got the time or energy to put up with that kind of negativity. I’ll save you the lecture about why self-publishing is totally valid and awesome for now.

Final Thoughts…

I have to assume that this book is hilarious to some people, or it wouldn’t have been made – all I know is that I’m definitely not one of them.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Assorted Reivews

Kwik Reads

Okay somebodies – I’ve not posted a review in ages since it’s taken me 4 months to recover from christmas. I was worried about this, until I realised it took me the exact same amount of time to recover last year! So without further ado, here’s a few quick reviews to get me back into the swing of things:

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

why did the man scream

his pet chicken pooped on his computer (holly)

TL;DR – A baffling collection of jokes, written by real Earth children!

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anybody who wants to spend twenty minutes or so marvelling at the insanity that is the mind of children.

About the Book…

This book is a collection of jokes, written by real kids and compiled by the guy behind @KidsWriteJokesIt is 130 pages of the most random, bizarre and hilarious surrealism that only a child could possibly come up with.

What I thought…

Personally, I really enjoyed it. It’s totally stupid, even baffling – sometimes you can see where these kids were coming from, and other times it’s a complete mystery. This isn’t a book of well crafted, genuinely funny jokes, and it doesn’t pretend to be. This book is funny because it’s bad, and more than a little charming.

Final Thoughts…

This has got to be worth a punt, even if it’s just something to pick up and chuckle at from time to time.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Can a cat really run a major business? Let’s find out!

TL;DR – A comic about a cat who runs a business – says it all really.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of cats

About the Book…

This book is exactly what you think it is – a collection of comic strips about a cat who is in charge of a business. Business cat acts like a cat, making business difficult or bizarre and their-in lies the humour.

What I thought…

There is nothing wrong with this book – in fact I imagine that if you are fond of cats, or know anything about cats, it’s probably hilarious. Unfortunately, I am neither a fan of cats, nor do I know anything about cats, so much of the charm is lost on me. I can appreciate it at a “this is weird, cat’s shouldn’t run a business” level, but I assume there is also a level where you would think “this is so like my cat!” or similar, which is obviously lost on me.

Final Thoughts…

This is probably much more entertaining if you know cats – however it is still cute and fun even if you don’t.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

A superb little campaign companion!

TL;DR – A selection of fun campaigns to play with your Dungeons and Dragons group.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: TTRPG fans, especially dungeon masters

About the Book…

Rolled and Told is a super little collection of campaigns for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Each campaign is provided with a setting, challenges, and experience guides and so on to allow your DM to run them with ease!

What I thought…

OK, I’m a part time DM for my younger sisters and a couple of their friends, and this book looks exactly the kind of thing I need. Each campaign is clearly well thought out, providing all the information you could possibly need to run it for yourself.

Seriously, this book has everything – setup and flavour text, NPC stats, challenge descriptions win/loss conditions, starting and ending information, plot and background stuff…just, everything! It’s well referenced too, pointing you towards pages in the various 5e players guides.

It’s also set out really nicely to make it easier to access specific information.

I’m particularly fond of the comic pages that accompany each campaign, setting the scene for the whole thing. It’s a really nice touch that makes the whole book seem a lot more fun, and would definitely appeal to my group of players.

Final Thoughts…

I’m absolutely certain my group would enjoy this book, and quite frankly I’m planning to put my money where my mouth is and get me a copy so I can test this theory. So much love to the folk who created this book!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

AAAAAAH, it feels good to review again! Hopefully I’ll have more soon.

Mental Health

I haven’t posted anything to this site in bloomin’ ages, and the main reason for that is that so far this year I have read like, 4 books…my mental health has been up and down and I’m adjusting to a new found social life and it’s exhausting.

Anyway, I made a decision. I’m gonna start making some more personal posts on this site, most likely about mental health and trans stuff, if for no other reason than it gives me somewhere to vent and explore things. So, look forward to that.

In the spirit of that, here’s a quick list of things about me I might post about:

  • Being trans / queer
  • Being plural
  • Depression / anxiety
  • Autism

And so on and so fourth…hopefully I’ll make a post soon.

I’m back!

A belated Happy New Year to all of y’all. As you may, or may not, have noticed, I’ve been away since…basically the back end of December. Christmas is a personal nightmare for me what with my mental health and all so it’s taken me a while to recover…but I’m back now and I’m gonna try and start posting again regularly.

So let’s have a quick look at what I’ve been doing during my hiatus.

I did a whole bunch of socialising, and more-or-less survived it.

I read three books – which is pathetic, but I haven’t really felt up to it. I did set myself a challenge to finish all the discworld books this year. I’d already read 29 of them, so I’m finishing the rest and starting the audiobooks from book 1.

I lost a whole bunch of weight which was pretty cool. Got a long way to go before I’m considered a ‘healthy’ weight, but its a step in the right direction. I’ve been taking my dog for much longer walks and I’m even going to try swimming again, so that’s exciting!

I started a Year In Pixels / diary to keep track of how I’m feeling day-to-day, which has been weird. I’ve also started a thing on twitter where I list a couple of things I like about me per day, which has been a challenge and I’ve only been doing it a week!

So now some bookish goals for the year.

As I said, I’m gonna finish the discworld series. Pratchett is my favourite author so this is an exciting goal for me.

I’m reading first drafts of a couple of authors works, which I’m so excited about.

I’m starting a new writing project. It’s gonna be more light-hearted than my current WIP, about a fish-girl who goes on some sort of adventure. I’m not sure what reading age it’s gonna be aimed at, but I kinda want it to be a kids/teen book, so that should be fun.

So there we are…things happened, things are happening, I’ll try and update sometimes and there we are.

 

Book of the Month (Dec 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for December 2018 (better late than never) is:

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Queen of Zazzau

by J.S. Enuakpor (2018)

TL;DR – A smashing tale of war, love, magic and gods, with seriously strong female characters

See the full review here: Queen of Zazzau (J.S. Emuakpor)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was probably the worst week I’ve had so far for studying. There are several reasons for this.

  1. I somehow got really behind, and didn’t even start work until Monday! (I usually start on Saturday and try to get it mostly done by Sunday evening)
  2. I had to do an experiment, and I hate it SO MUCH3
  3. Christmas is coming, and I hate it.

Fortunately, I managed to pull it around. Wednesday proved to be immensely productive, and I got not only my normal uni work done, but the extension work (learning about mammals) done too!

Now to the experiment. I had to find out the percentage of water in potatoes, by drying them out in a microwave and weighing them. Simple enough, no?

Apparently not. One set of scales adds an extra 40g to any weight over 700g, the other seems to take 10 minutes to decide exactly what number it feels like stopping on. Point is, I spent over an hour doing this stupid experiment and I hated every single minute of it.

Today I managed to get a little extra work done before the holidays, focussing on Maths for Science, which started off easy and then got insanely hard towards the end, and now my head hurts.

Writing Journal

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This week was a bit hectic for writing, what with it being so close to Christmas. I was seriously behind on my studying too, so I had to prioritise – hence I didn’t do a lot this week. HOWEVER.

This week I wrote somewhere into the region of 7000 words, which I’m dead pleased with, thanks in no small part to a mammoth writing session in my local library yesterday afternoon. I also managed to complete my week’s writing goal, which was pretty sweet.

Last week’s writing challenge: Write the final chapters.

I totally wrote them. I hate the prologue, and I’m not sure about the content and pacing of the chapters, but that’s a problem for first-draft editing. I also started work on the few chapters I wanted to slot into earlier parts of the story, so it’s all starting to come together.

With that in mind, let’s set a new writing challenge, shall we:

This week’s writing challenge: Complete draft 0.5

In other words, finish off the few remaining chapters to give me a complete story, by the end of the week. Then I can have a week or so off, and then I start the monumental task of editing!! Scary stuff!

Book Review: Fringe War (Rachel Aukes)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Interesting, but a little overwhelming.

TL;DR – Freedom fighters kick back against the government that oppresses them, war ensues. Full of plotting, politics and spaceships.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of sci-fi

About the Book…

Fringe War is the fourth book in a series I haven’t read. It follows the story of a group of freedom fighters in their struggle to wrestle control and a better life from the hands of a corrupt – and evil – government. It’s your classic space-based underdog story.

What I thought…

I’ve given this book 4 stars, although if I’m honest I feel I should give it three. I’ll explain that first and then move on to the book itself. I personally felt that there were too many characters and names being thrown about it this book – I really, really struggled to keep track of who was who, and even now I could only name two characters, and I only really know who one of them is. For this reason, I would have rated this book a three – however, I am erring on the side of caution, as this could just be my own issue rather than a genuine problem with the book so I would encourage you to make up your own mind on that front.

The story itself – or at least, the bits I could keep track of – were very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the political landscape of The Collective, and the unpleasant motivations of Heid, who seems to run the parliament. There were a lot of references to things that must have happened earlier in the series that influenced a lot of the decisions made by the characters, and I would definitely consider picking up the rest of the series to learn about them.

I think the story had a good balance of action and political thought, which made for an easy read, aside from the issues addressed above.

Final Thoughts…

This book definitely seems to have the potential to be really enjoyed by someone who can get their head around all the characters. So if that sort of thing isn’t a problem for you, I’d recommend you give it a try.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week can be summarised quite vividly. If you imagine being punched repeatedly in the face, for a whole week, then getting rewarded with a nice cake on the seventh day, you should have some idea of how my week has gone academically.

The big thing this week is that I have hit my first big issue with the Open University (shock horror). Now, I’m no stranger to being online – I have, in fact, spent most of my life on the internet, so the idea of having my study materials presented online shouldn’t cause me too many problems, right?

WRONG.

As it turns out, you break up my study into webpage size chunks and what you’ve given me is an instruction to switch off my brain. I take NOTHING in. I can pages and pages of websites and not have the faintest idea what I’ve spent the last hour doing! As search, I have had to spend a considerable amount of time working around this, which has been a massive pain in the backside.

I have figured out how to download each week’s worth of work into a PDF file, which I work from (which means I can take notes) and flick back to the webpage for any interactive elements. It’s a pain, and I absolutely hate it. So that’s fun.

I’ve also come across some accessibility issues. The course has started linking to videos on YouTube, which is fair enough, but I have found they don’t bother to provide any guidance as to how to find a transcript of these videos. I found one by accident, and after 20 minutes of searching, discovered the other didn’t have dialogue at all! I think it’s pretty terrible that this isn’t considered in the course materials, and it’s really annoying me.

Now moving away from the fury and on to the good stuff.

I have started doing OpenLearn courses on top of my regular uni work, and this week I began a multi-part course entitled The Life of Mammals. It uses the David Attenborough documentary and book of the same name as the teaching basis, and so I spent most of yesterday learning about marsupials and monotremes. It was AWESOME.

Finally, I have officially requested to change my degree pathway from a BSc Computing and IT, to a BSc Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences specialism). So that’s SUPER exciting.