Warrior of the World (Jeffe Kennedy)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

More domestic than its predecessor, but just as entertaining

TL;DR – The continuing adventures of Ivariel, and her new life wiht the D’tiembo family.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Folk who enjoy romance with a bit of action thrown in for good measure

About the Book…

Warrior of the World is the sequel to Exile of the Seas (Book Review: Exile of the Seas (Jeffe Kennedy) ). With her former husband dead and buried, Ivariel is learning to live again among the D’tiembo family, who have welcomed her with open arms. But all is not as it seems.

Ivariel soon learns that Ochieng had introduced her as his betrothed, and his family had treated her accordingly. Ivariel finds herself trapped by her past trauma, and must learn to trust others to help her overcome her history. But soon, Ivariel’s destiny comes knocking and she must take up the post of Warrior Priestest in order to protect the people she loves.

What I thought…

This book was so much fun. For the most part, this book had a more gentle pace to it. Where Exile of the Seas was all about escaping an abusive existence, Warrior of the World focuses a great deal on exploring aspects of Ivariel’s character and how she relates to the world at large.

Ivariel’s relationship with Ochieng is explored extensively in this book, and it’s heartbreak as well as heartwarming. Ivariel has such horrific memories associated with love and relationships, but with Ochieng’s tender patience, she learns very, very slowly to come to terms with them and to blossom into something more than just the product of her past.

But this book isn’t without it’s action. Ivariel must learn to take up her position as a Warrior Priestess in order to protect her new family from rival civilisations, raiding in desperation after the rainy season.

This book does have several chapters of explicit sexual content, but I don’t think it’s gratuitous or out of place – it’s enjoyable and readable, even though erotic writing is not my thing.

Final Thoughts…

If you enjoyed Exile of the Seas and wanted character development and more romance, you will love 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!

Book Review: Pilu of the Woods (Mai K. Nguyen)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Intensely beautiful in every way.

TL;DR – A beautiful story about overcoming your demons

Book of the Month
Book of the Month (November 2018)

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Ragdoll Rating: Exceptional

Recommended For: Anybody who struggles with the nasty voices in their heads.

About the Book…

Poor Willow. Life feels so hard. She runs away from home into the forest after an argument with her sister, where she makes a discovery. Willow finds a forest spirit, Pilu, crying in the woods. Pilu has run away too, but now she is lost. Willow knows the woods better than anyone and offers to return Pilu to her home safely. The pair become firm friends immediately but the monsters are not far behind.

What I thought…

This book is so beautiful. Willow has these monsters in her head, monsters that make her angry and aggressive. She tries to bottle them up, to keep them subdued and hidden – an attempt at being strong. But it doesn’t work. The monsters get angrier the more they are resisted and then they burst out and take over, causing Willow to do things she really regrets.  But with Pilu’s help, Willow learns to overcome the monsters through compassion and understanding. This book shows a real deep, clear understanding of what it’s like to live with little demons in your head – monsters that don’t feel part of you, creatures you despise. It’s something I go through constantly, and to see Willow work through things compassionately is so close to my own personal experience it genuinely made me weep.

The story also deals with loss, feelings of isolation, and friendship. It’s so wholesome and heartwarming.

I’m making a complete pig’s ear of explaining the story, but trust me, it is wonderful.

The illustrations, also, and so pretty. Nguyen’s art style is adorable, and the characters are all so sweet, you just want to hug them until everything is alright again.

Final Thoughts…

This book was completely beautiful in every way, and I will absolutely be buying a physical copy as soon as I am able.

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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!

Book Review: St Paul’s Labyrinth (Jeroen Windmeijer)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Interesting story, but not my cup of tea.

TL;DR –A story of conspiracy, kidnapping and alternative theories on Christianity

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Ragdoll Rating: 2.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: People who enjoy religious conspiracy

About the Book…

When an unknown tunnel is discovered under the streets of Leiden, it’s an exciting time for historians. But when one colleague winds up dead, and another kidnapped, Peter de Haan’s life is about to get difficult. Peter is forced to follow a trail of clues to rescue his friend, and finds himself learning more and more about the mysterious cult of Mithras.

St Paul’s Labyrinth is story of religious conspiracy, and devotes a long time to offering an alternative explanation for the history of Christianty – so obviously, if that’s going to rub you the wrong way, probably best to avoid it.

What I thought…

This book has me split down the middle, and I’ll tell you for why. I picked up this book hoping for your standard religious conspiracy treasure hunt style story, which is exactly what I got. I just found myself hopping between liking and hating bits really rapidly.

What I liked about this book was the alternative history it provides. The book suggests, among other things, that Jesus and the rest of the Jewish people were totally fine with each other, until St Paul got spurned and humiliated by a Jewish priest and decided he was going to destroy Judaism. He did this, according to the book, by re-tooling the concept of Jesus, to fit around the existing story of Mithras, and then spreading it around. This caused a big divide in the Jewish faith, and sparked of Christianity which really is just a collection of rituals and stories about a completely different god. This is explored in considerable detail during the course of this book, and that’s sort of what bugs me. If you’d handed me this book and said “Here is a well referenced work of non-fiction explaining many of the inconsistencies in early Christianity” I would have eaten it up with a spoon. Religious history is my JAM. But it was a bit much in the middle of a fiction work, and I personally found that the story was less interesting than the religious history element, which was a bit jarring.

What I didn’t like was the quantity of analogies. This book is full of them, for completely random things. Things you would never think needed an example. Everything is ‘like’ this and ‘like’ that. I found it really, REALLY annoying, and I know that’s pretty petty, but it wrecked the flow of the book for me.

I also struggled to follow the book itself. Each chapter has a date, and they jump all over the place, but also I struggled to understand the motivations. The main character, for example, seems to be expecting some sort of religious quest to drop into his lap, as he is waaaay to into the whole thing long before his colleague is kidnapped. He runs from the police after his other colleague disappears for no apparent reason at all, and then keeps going. Also, the book declares that Peter is not a Robert Langdon-esque super genius, and yet he still manages to solve a myriad of random clues in no time flat, something I don’t imagine your average professor would be able to do. I don’t know why this bothered me.

Final Thoughts…

I personally would have loved to see this book split into two, a fiction book containing a heavily reduced quantity of religious explanations, and a non-fiction book giving the background to the whole thing. Alas, it was not to be.

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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!

Book of the Month (October 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for October 2018 is:

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Quantum Mechanics

by Jeff Weigel (2018)

TL;DR – A pair of young mechanics are kidnapped by pirates. Adventure follows.

See the full review here: Book Review: Quantum Mechanics (Jeff Weigel)

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

Book Review: Quantum Mechanics (Jeff Weigel)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

I got me a new favourite graphic novel!

TL;DR – A pair of young mechanics are kidnapped by pirates. Adventure follows.

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Ragdoll Rating: Exceptional

Recommended For: Fans of comics, especially girls ’cause it has 2 awesome female leads!

About the Book…

Rox and Zam live and work, tinkering around in a space junkyard. One fateful day, a real pretty ship comes asking for repairs, but is turned away. The girls offer their services, but find themselves quickly kidnapped by the most feared space pirate of them all.

What follows is a brilliant tale of underdogs fighting the system.

What I thought…

Let’s just go through a quick checklist of things I already loved about this book, long before I finished it:

  • 2 female leads, one of which is fat (and a lizard), both genius mechanics who are totally brave and crazy and totally awesome
  • Space pirates
  • A ship shaped like a skull and crossbones
  • Brilliant, cute artwork

I’m not gonna lie, it would be very hard for someone to put those things in a book and have me hate it – but I don’t just throw that ‘Exceptional’ rating around for just anything.

This book is funny, it’s got plenty of action and it’s totally ridiculous. The main characters, Rox and Zam, are totally awesome female leads. Cool and fun, super smart and totally adorable – and they make excellent pirates! I love the addition of the baby Zolorians (lil’ baby lizard mechanics) – they are so cute and silly. I love them partly because they are about as far away from ‘serious’ as you can get. They are vaguely telepathic, have an affinity for mechanics and eat power cells, and they wind up playing a pivotal role in the story despite being babies. It’s just hilarious and I love it.

Final Thoughts…

If you like space silliness, then you HAVE to read this book, then come back here and tell me all about it. Definitely getting a physical copy of this ASAP.

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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!

Book Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities (Mady G)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

The book I wish I’d had a decade ago.

TL;DR – A cute, fun tour through the world of queerness

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Everyone. Especially anybody questions or recently out.

About the Book…

This book is very brief, but very informative tour through the world of identities, labels and relationships. The comics focus on the wisdom of a snail, who teaches a bunch of snail buddies about all the beautiful humans.

The book is broken into sections, each dealing with a different aspect of the queer experience. Each chapter is ended with a little summary comic featuring an adorable set of creatures known as Sproutlings.

What I thought…

As I said above, I wish I had had this book a decade or more ago. Transitioning was the result of years of questioning my sexuality and gender identity, and the whole period was a very difficult time. I still – 5+ years later – struggle with some aspects, and this book would have helped me a great deal.

Obviously I can’t speak for every queer person, but I personally feel that the content of this book is brilliant. It’s really inclusive, covering a wider variety of topics (albeit very briefly in some cases).

The book starts by discussing sexual orientation, and (correctly) declares it to be distinct from gender identity. Then there is a section on gender identity itself, including non-binary identities and the differences between identity and expression. It’s a really good chapter. Then we have a section on asexuality, something I find is often ignored in by a lot of people. The book finishes itself off with sections of advice, covering healthy relationships and coming out. Mady G makes great efforts to point out the fluid nature of identity, talks a lot about spectrums and how labels and concepts can differ from person to person. I think it’s really well done, and you can definitely tell it’s been written by someone with experience of what they are writing about.

I also love the illustrations, courtesy of J.R. Zuckerberg. I admit I’m slightly biased in this regard. If you want me to love anything, make it cute and I’m basically sold – and this book is CUTE. I love the Sproutlings, they are all my best friends and I want to live in their cute little forest. But ignoring my obvious bias, the illustrations are really lovely, they make what can feel like a difficult subject feel easier.

Finally, I want to mention the very last pages. Tucked away at the end of this book are a series of little activities – I assume aimed at the younger audience. Their inclusion is a really nice touch. The activities include, among other things, a section to write a letter to your younger self (something I know a lot of queer folk have found really helpful) and an invitation to design your own Sproutling. I just thought that was really cool.

Final Thoughts…

If I ever get hold of a time machine, I’m sending this book back to my teenage self. This is definitely a must read for anybody who needs a gentle guide into our big queer world.

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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!

Book Review: Miraculum (Steph Post)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

A tattooed female lead? Yes please!

TL;DR – A story of good and evil with a freak-show background.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Folks who like mysteries and mythology

About the Book…

Ruby is a freak – literally. She works as snake charmer as part of a circus sideshow. Life is normal, or as normal as circus life gets, until the day a performer commits suicide. The geeks replacement, Daniel, is an unusual man who doesn’t seem to belong. But he also harbors a deadly secret that turns Ruby’s life inside out.

What I thought…

I was really enjoying this book, right up until the end. I must say, before I go on, that the reason for this is that what I wanted to happen, didn’t happen, the ending was perfectly fine otherwise.

Miraculum starts off as a bizarre mystery over the backdrop of a travelling circus, and morphs into a wild and creepy occult battle of good versus evil. The book goes pretty deep into a sort of voodoo / occult area, which I struggled with a bit as I understood almost none of the words being thrown around.

The whole book is entertaining, and also pretty tragic in places. I love the main character, Ruby – and the way she interacts with a world she has no place in. It’s pretty upsetting to read about the treatment of the freaks, although the book doesn’t dwell on that too heavily.

Final Thoughts…

It’s a fun book and definitely worth a read if you like fantastical stuff in a historical setting.

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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!

Book Review: Book Love (Debbie Tung)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

The perfect book for the bookworm in your life

TL;DR – A collection of cute comics about loving books

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Every book lover everywhere.

About the Book…

Book Love is – and this may shock you – a book about loving books. *gasp*. But in all seriousness, this book is a collection of comic strips about books and the people who love them.  It’s about 140 pages of hilarious observations of bookish people everywhere.

What I thought…

I don’t know Debbie Tung, we’ve never met, and until just now I didn’t know she existed. However, we are now best friends because of this book. I don’t make the rules. This book is hilarious from beginning to end. I found myself reading a couple of strips and thinking “That is so me” only to turn the page and find myself in fits of laughter at the next strip.

The observations in this book are SO accurate. I look through this book and if a strip doesn’t sound like me, I know someone bookish it fits perfectly! It’s hard to explain the beauty of a book of comics without any actual pictures – so just take me word for it that the pictures are cute as heck and then read my favourite line.

Happiness for bookworms:
Following your favorite authors on social media and acting as if they’re your friends.

Final Thoughts…

If you are a reader, or you know a reader, get this book. Trust me, you’ll love it.

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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!

Book Review: We Are Mars (Cheryl Lawson)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

A city on mars! What could possibly go wrong…

TL;DR – A super space thriller, full of excitement and wonderful characters.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

I originally bought this book as a sort of weak thank you after Cheryl very kindly offered me some excellent advice on kicking writers block. Though I would have bought it either way, because it sounded exciting and I love a good sci-fi novel!

The Story…

Rubicon was once the pinnacle of human achievement. A city on Mars with with best technology and brightest minds all in one place. But that was years ago. After the expedition failed to discover evidence of life on Mars, funding dried up and Rubicon began to stagnate.

After a biological contagion is discovered in the drinking water, Rubicon descends into chaos – and that’s only the beginning.

We Are Mars is an wonderful science-fiction thriller.

What I liked…

We Are Mars explores a side of space exploration that often gets neglected in the sci-fi genre. Rubicon was once a technological marvel, but it’s systems are now becoming antiquated, and the supply ships that arrive every six years are more inclined to bring branded drinks dispensers than vital mission supplies to the Red planet. Rubicon is thrown into complete disarray when the aging water filtration system fails to prevent an outbreak of an unknown toxin to the drinking water, made worse by the completely unforeseen medical problems in genetically engineered humans.

The numerous tragedies that unfold during the course of the book, provide a wonderful backdrop to the interrelationships of the books main characters. One particularly interesting relationship builds between Jaxon and Dana, who prior to the outbreak constantly butted heads as Jaxon did all he could to rebel against the authority Dana represented, and Dana tried desperately to reign Jaxon in and maintain order. But as the pair find themselves forced into an impossible situation, they find themselves showing qualities that were hidden or ignored, and their working relationship becomes strong, building throughout the book. I enjoyed the way the characters evolved as the book went on, and the gravity of their situation hit them in unique and interesting ways.

Finally, I loved the world building. Rubicon has clearly undergone a considerable level of thought, avoiding the ‘generic space city’ vibe and instead becoming a believable and fascinating location. The rules and regulations imposed upon the inhabitants are infuriating, but completely understandable given the mission parameters. It is, as the book says, more scientific experiment than living city, something that Jaxon and his cohorts find themselves desperate to change.

What I disliked…

Each chapter focuses on one (or more) characters, and it took me some time to wrap my head around who was who. Each time the narrative switched to someone I hadn’t heard of, I got a bit confused, and then when it switched back to someone I did know, I couldn’t remember who they were – although this became easier as the book went on, and I would chalk this up to an issue with my comprehension ability than the book itself.

Final thoughts…

We Are Mars is a really fun and exciting read, that sets itself up nicely for the sequel (which I cannot wait to read). The plot and characters are excellent, and the world building is top-notch.

SUPER SPECIAL BONUS: AUTHOR INTERVIEW!!!

Twitter is an awesome place sometimes. This time it’s awesome because I managed to get We Are Mars author Cheryl Lawson (@WeAreMarsBook) to answer some questions about her work, which I’m super excited to present to you here!

Cheryl Lawson

1) What inspired you to write about disasters on a Martian colony?

I decided on a Mars drama because of two things: 1. The isolation of a Mars colony makes it vulnerable and 2. Mars is such a hostile place, I felt there was already a lot to work with. I’ve realized, while writing both books, that there are dozens of ways to die on Mars and it provides a lot of opportunity for an exciting and dramatic narrative.

2) If you had to pick two parts of We Are Mars you like more than any other, what would they be and why?

Firstly, the characters stories are my favourite part of the book. They are complex and the pressure of they are put under reveals unexpected traits and behaviours. Second, the ending – which is more of an opening to Storm at Dawn – is my next favourite part. It gives a clue for the coming crisis.

3) I see from twitter you have recently completed your first draft of Storm at Dawn, the second book in the Rubicon Saga. Is there anything in it that you a really excited for people to read?

Yes! The characters relationships are severely tested and the threats abound in Storm at Dawn. There’s a significant plot twist towards the end that opens the plot for the next, as yet untitled, third installment of the Rubicon Saga. It’s going to be a cracking read!

4) Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell my readers?

We Are Mars is not all about the science. It’s about the people and the character cast is richly diverse. The science sets the stage for some amazing interpersonal drama and if your readers enjoy complex, layered characters, they will love the Rubicon Saga.

Thank you so much Cheryl, for answering my questions.

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Please note: I know the author on twitter, however I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: I Wanna Be Well (Miguel Chen)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Interesting reading, if a bit sweary.

TL;DR – Bite sized chunks of wisdom, spiritual insights and self-help guidance from the punk perspective.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4/5 Buttons

Recommended For: People with a more sceptical view of spirituality, who want to dip their toes in the water

About the Book…

I Wanna Be Well is sort of spiritual smorgasbord, in a good way. Drawing from a range of sources from Buddhism, yoga, the 12-Step program and others, Miguel Chen provides insights and advice, backed up by years of experience practicing what he preaches.

Each chapter takes up a specific issue, for example, breathing, compassion, forgiveness, and explains the concepts with reference to various spiritual traditions and Miguel’s own life story. Each chapter ends with a different practice for you to try, drawn from a number of sources.

What I thought…

I almost gave up on this book quite early on, because if I’m being completely honest, I was thrown by the authors use of swearing. I’m not opposed to swearing, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t swear myself, but for some reason it felt abrasive, and it made me uncomfortable. Having completed the book, I would reassess that position, and suggest that in reality it is just the way the author talks, and this book is written in an informal style to help better engage people who might find all this ‘spiritual talk’ dry and hard to follow if it was written in the style I am accustomed to. I’m still not sure I like it, but I do at least understand it.

The content of the book is actually pretty good. Miguel uses examples from his own life to explain various concepts in a simple and informal way, and offers regular reminders that none of the stuff in the book needs to be thought of as inherently religious or spiritual, it’s just useful things to help calm your mind and help you live your best life.

At the end of each chapter, there is a practice to do, broken down into simple steps and with a tl;dr after each if you just want an overview. I actually really liked this, as it tied everything together nicely. I imagine if you picked this book up and read a chapter a day, or every other day, by the time you finished you would have a really good set of tools to help you cope with life. There are also step by step pictorial instructions for the various sets of yoga practices the book contains, which I thought was another useful touch.

Final Thoughts…

I’m glad I finished this book. The writing style caught me off-guard, and kept me that way, but the practices and explanations contained in this book made that small discomfort worth enduring. Actually, thinking about it, I could have probably done with this book as a teen.

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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!