Book Review: Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda)

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


Goodreads Link

One of my favourite books ever.

TL;DR – A wonderful, beautiful story about family, sibling rivalry and love.

EBBannerRagdoll Rating: EXCEPTIONAL

Recommended For: Anybody who wants a beautiful story and isn’t put off by a bit of confusion.

About the Book…

Life is pretty good for Kun, until his sister Mirai is born. Suddenly his parents seem irritable, and have less time to spend with him, and poor Kun struggles to adapt to his new reality. He hates his new sister, he hates his parents and he hates his new life. Kun’s world has been turned upside down in an instant. But after an impossible encounter with a future version of his new little sister, Kun is thrown into an even more impossible journey and nothing will ever be the same.

What I thought…

Let it be known by one and all that I want to kiss Mamoru Hosoda and his beautiful mind. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this strange little book is one of the best I have ever read.

I don’t know what it is about this book. Perhaps it’s got something to do with being the eldest of four children, perhaps it has something to do with my own internalised difficulties with perceived rejection and change, perhaps it’s something else, but this book reached out and touched my very soul (an impressive feat considering I don’t believe in the soul!). Kun is such a relatable and believable character. He is flawed, what child is perfect, but everything he does, from his initial negative, even violent reactions over the arrival of his new sister, to the results of his dream-like journey…I just felt it, deep down inside me, that I knew exactly how he felt, and how he was hurting.

Kun is a lost boy, trapped in a scary world of conflicting emotions and change and that hits me where I live. Seeing his journey, meeting members of his family and learning from them, and then losing himself completely and almost irretrievably was heart breaking, and completely poetically beautiful. I refuse to tell you much about the ending, all I can say is that if I hadn’t been convinced by the story up until that point (which I absolutely was) the final few chapters would have swung it.

My only critique about this book is that the dream-like encounters come out of nowhere. You’re reading a slice-of-life story, and all of a sudden things get weird and sci-fi. I still have no idea what was going on, and a little bit of me wants an explanation, but a much, MUCH bigger part of me doesn’t care. Just be aware of it, and if it bothers you, please just accept it and keep reading, it is SO worth it.

Final Thoughts…

I genuinely did not expect the reaction I got from this book. It is currently 3:30AM, and I hauled myself out of bed as soon as I finished reading to write this review because I felt an overwhelming urge to tell anyone and everyone who would listen to read this book. I love it, and I really hope you’ll 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!

Book Review: When the Chocolate Runs Out (Lama Thubten Yeshe)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: People with a little Buddhist experience

About the Book…

When the Chocolate Runs Out is a million-mile-an-hour run through some of the fundamental concepts in Buddhism. In it, Lama Yeshe provides instruction on a wide variety of topics, from Karma, attachment and ego.

What I thought…

Up until the very end, my primary thought about this book was: “Thank god I already know about this!” Somewhere in this book, Lama Yeshe explains that the point of Buddhism and the dharma, isn’t to learn everything but to put things into practice and test ideas against your own experience. This philosophy is obvious throughout the book as Lama Yeshe provides a lot of “What to do?” and very little How or Why. As such, if you weren’t already familiar with some of the concepts, I can imagine this book could be quite frustrating at times, finding yourself unsure of how to do something or why it’s worth it in the first place. Of course the Why is because Lama Yeshe has found it helpful in his own experience, but that can be a difficult position to start from. It’s certainly one I struggle with.

That said, there was a lot of material covered and if you do already have some background knowledge of Buddhism’s workings, then it’s quite a good reminder and a fresh perspective on a number of fairly key concepts.

My favourite part about this book is actually at the end, where Lama Yeshe – very – briefly, runs the reader through a number of simple meditations. This section actually turned the whole book around for me, as the instructions were very clear and and offered additional guidance about our expectations. Good meditation instructions can be difficult to find, either being overly simplistic or complicated, but Lama Yeshe manages to find a good balance between the two that allows the concepts to be delivered and understood without taxing the mind one way or the other.

I think this is a book that perhaps would be best treated as a coffee-table read, the kind of book you dip in and out of frequently. The chapters are short and sweet, and the format throughout lends itself much better to frequent short bursts, compared to long period of reading (which is what I just did, and I finished it in just over an hour).

Final Thoughts…

Overall, my opinions on this book are a little all over the place. It is certainly something I would happily come back to, as I’m sure there is more wisdom contained within than I have taken in during this read-through.

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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: Interconnected (HH. The 17th Karmapa)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anybody with an interest in Buddhism, self improvement and global fellowship.

About the Book…

In Interconnected, His Holiness invites us to explore the fundamental connections that bind us to everything else. The book explores all manner of themes, from our environmental impact to our interpersonal relationships. Through a mixture of personal anecdotes, musings and philosophy, His Holiness paints an insightful picture of our place in the world, and how we can improve it by switching our focus to the things that connect us, rather than those that divide us.

This book continues on many of the themes raised in The Heart is Noble. (Book Review: The Heart Is Noble (HH. The 17th Karmapa))

What I thought…

Interconnected is clearly a labour of love. These are the words of a man who truly believes the advice he gives, and follows that advice to the letter. As I have come to expect from His Holiness, this book is wonderfully written, in an insightful, wise and friendly manner.

Probably my favourite element of this book, among it’s many admirable qualities, is the way His Holiness speaks quite candidly about his own life experiences. We are treated, not just to tales from his childhood, but also to difficulties that arise from his position as a spiritual leader. Personal anecdotes are provided often as a demonstration of some of the more difficult elements contained within the book. For example, there is a wonderful passage about how freedom and responsibility are linked, which on the surface could be a difficult concept to grasp, as it appears to be quite a contrast to the common western notion of freedom. His Holiness illustrates this point by imagining he wished to exercise personal freedom, and start a game of basketball in the monastery – an act which would cause many others a great deal of problems, and not just those in the immediate vicinity.

Final Thoughts…

Some elements of this book will be easier to digest if you are a practicing Buddhist, since His Holiness is obviously heavily influenced by Buddhist thinking and refers to it frequently. Having said that, everything in this book could easily be understood and acted upon by anybody, and you certainly would not need to be a Buddhist to take a great deal of positive ideas from 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: Changing Ways (Julia Tannenbaum)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anybody who wants to take a gut-punch to the feels (in a good way).

About the Book…

TW: This book contains details of self harm, anorexia and other mental health issues, psychiatric wards and hospitals.

For Grace Edwards, life is a bit of an emotional storm. Her father left after her mother had an affair. That, combined with the usual high school horrors would make anyone miserable. But it’s not all bad. Her dream of playing varsity soccer has just come true, and things are starting to look up. Then it all falls apart.

Grace finds herself hauled off to a psychiatric ward and gets hit with a scary diagnosis. Anorexia.

Changing Ways follows Grace through the early stages of her battle with her mental health demons.

What I thought…

I’ll start this section with a warning. I had to stop reading after a few chapters as I was in a bad mental health place myself, and if I’m honest, this book cut pretty close to the bone. Having now completed the book, I’m really glad I waited until I felt better. The content of this book is obviously emotionally complex and if you’ve been through something similar, can be difficult, even triggering to read. But it’s worth it, when you’re in a better head space.

My first impressions of this book were primarily curiosity. This book is set in the US, the land of private health care, and I’m in the UK where we have the NHS. I was really amazed at the difference in mental health provision between the two countries. I even took to twitter to ask for confirmation that this as an accurate representation of how things worked over there. Apparently it is! For those of you who are interested, I’ve been in a psychiatric ward twice in my life for various reasons, and it took an incredible amount of effort and problems to get there. Grace goes from being caught self-harming to a psychiatric facility in a matter of hours, which is apparently standard practice. It was quite the culture shock, but as it turns out this disconnect in experience really opened up the rest of the book for me.

Since Grace is whisked off immediately for observation, she really doesn’t want to be in the facility. She doesn’t see the point and she resists at every turn. The idea of the controlled environment and treatment plans makes her feel infantlized and robbed of her independence. Her diagnosis makes her feel broken, and it’s heartbreaking, but also infuriating because from the outside you can see how damaging it is. From my point of view, it was a really insightful look at how mental illness affects those around us which is so difficult to consider when you’re in the throws of your own crisis.

Eventually Grace is moved on to an outpatient program, and it would have been easy at this point, to want Grace to just get better and stay that way, especially considering how terrified Grace is about being forced back into hospital. But she doesn’t. As Tannenbaum so rightly suggests, recovery takes time, a lot of time, and you don’t just leave the hospital feeling fine. Grace finds herself in a program for people with eating disorders, and her struggles increase when she start comparing herself to other, thinner patients.

Throughout the book, Grace’s ability to cope and follow her treatment plan fluctuates. Sometimes she struggles, other times it’s a little easier. Grace’s recovery isn’t just a steady climb back to normal, and actually at the end of the book (If you want to avoid the spoiler, skip the rest of this paragraph) Grace finds herself back in hospital over Christmas, her worst fears realised, and obviously, she hates it. It sounds like a miserable ending, but actually it’s beautiful.

My favourite part of this book, I think, comes towards the end, when Grace is having one of her better periods, and she is sitting round the table waiting for another girl to finish her small meal for over an hour. This is something Grace has struggled with herself throughout the book, but she is infuriated. She wants to grab the girl by her shoulders and shake her back to sense. It’s a beautiful moment, because this was how I’d been feeling for most of the book, and Grace has the clarity of mind to notice that this is something she has found difficult.

“I wanted to shake her bony shoulders and exclaim, “Just eat already! Why can’t you just eat!?”
But I didn’t. Instead, I played with the new admission bracelet around my wrist and reminded myself that not too long ago, I was her; petrified of every bite, every calorie that entered my body.”

It was a wonderful moment, because this is such a difficult thing to come to terms with, and it made me hopeful that this knowledge would fortify Grace in her difficult periods.

Final Thoughts…

Changing Ways is a story of complex and difficult concepts, written in a way that is incredibly easy to read. It is emotionally draining at times, and beautiful throughout. I love it when I read something that makes me feel like the author understands a bit of my world, and that is exactly how I felt reading this book. I’m so glad I read 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: The Road to Vermilion Lake (Vic Cavalli)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

A love story that left me banging my head against a wall.

TL;DR – The tale of a blossoming romance between two unlikely lovers.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 2.5/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

I was lucky enough to have the author offer me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Story…

TW: Contains descriptions of bodily mutilation, sexual content, drug use, and sexual assault.

Thomas Tems is a blaster for a construction firm, building an idyllic residential area around a remote lake. Thomas soon forms a relationship with the architect behind the project, a brilliant young woman and devout Catholic, called Johnny.

The Road to Vermilion Lake explores their budding relationship, the difficulties that come from the clash of religious backgrounds,  and the troubled histories of the characters, and the frantic search for Johnny’s missing sister.

What I liked…

In it’s purest form, I enjoyed this story. I read it all over the space of a day, so something about it must have grabbed me.

I enjoyed reading about the building relationship between Thomas and Johnny. Johnny, as a devout Catholic, has a great deal of extra rules about what constitutes morality that are alien to Johnny, particularly around intimacy and sex. It was interesting seeing how the pair worked together to navigate a potentially difficult situation, even going so far as to create a map of morally appropriate places on Johnny’s body that could be touched before marriage. It was bizarre, certainly, but it was really nice to see a really thorough and clear example of how consent and communication can and should work in a relationship. Which, incidentally, is something I will come back to in a moment.

I also enjoyed, much to my surprise, the character building behind behind Thomas’ best friend Dave. Dave is introduced as the kind of man who ruts about the bars, having one night stands with women whose names he never bothers to learn. I was all prepared to hate him, which I suppose was very much the point. but Dave’s character is fleshed out, and we learn about his troubled past as a drug addict, ex-con and artist. He builds a relationship with Johnny’s sister while she is in the hospital, and falls apart when she leaves him to go to New York. His story is incredibly sad, and builds beautifully.

Finally, and I suppose this goes back to my first point a little, but I really loved the way this book dealt with the realities of love and lust, in particular with the theme of temptation. Cavalli introduces a character, Carol, who appears outside Thomas’ trailer on even, stinking drunk and looking for Dave. Carol is, by all accounts a beautiful woman, who basically throws herself on Thomas. Thomas’ temptation is explored at this point. He is madly in love with Johnny, who he is dating happily, but she is in New York, and he has urges. What I love about this scene is not the fact that he resisted, but the fact that he came so close to giving in, panicked and then ran off to make arrangements for this random drunkard to be cared for overnight. It’s so real and so human and it makes Thomas a stronger person when Carol comes knocking a second time.

What I disliked…

I have to preface this section with a quote from the book, you’ll see why in a minute.

“I was reading Faulkner’s Light in August. I’d never read him before and I was stunned by his genius. He’d just taken 10 pages to allow a mule to walk thirty feet…”

This quote comes in, according to my kindle, 89% of the way through the book. Which means for almost the entire book I found myself reading descriptions that where anywhere between somewhat excessive and needlessly clinical. The descriptions of gun related topic, for example, read like they were lifted verbatim from a gun catalogue. Don’t get me wrong, my favourite book (Les Miserables – Victor Hugo) is, at times, full of mind-numbing description that make you want to tear the book in half, so Cavalli is in not alone in a love for excess description, but it still bugged me. Hence the quote. It at least demonstrates that it was done on purpose for artistic reasons I don’t understand or appreciate.

Now we come to my big gripe and return to the concept of consent I mentioned earlier. Johnny sets out extremely clear boundaries as they begin their relationship, and I mean extremely clear. The map I mentioned earlier? Four perfect diagrams of Johnny’s body, front, back and both sides, show exactly where Thomas was permitted to touch and where he was forbidden. In terms of consent, this is about as explicit as it can possibly get. Which is why I was so furious when Thomas did this:

I gently caressed her there, knowing full well I was in a no entry zone…

Now after this, Johnny was more or less OK with this, but Thomas broke the explicitly stated rules of consent, so what this is, is a sexual assault. One that he knows full well he is committing and just doesn’t care, in fact he even seems proud of it, turning Thomas from a good, relatable character into someone I can’t stand. I know consent can change as things go along, but he makes no attempt what-so-ever to try and find out if it’s OK, presumably because he knows it won’t be.

There are a few other minor gripes like the use of the word “rump” which just made me laugh, but they are overshadowed by the last bit.

Final thoughts…

I enjoyed the story, I was bothered by the description and I hated the male lead. I’m not sure what to make of that. I feel a bit mean only giving this book a 2.5 rating, because I did enjoy the story itself. I think if the excess descriptions were cut down and it was made into a short story I would love it, but there you are…

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. 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: Evenfall (Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fantasy and magic fans

About the Book…

TW: This book contains descriptions of self harm and sexual assault.

“As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.” (Goodreads).

Long ago, the world was fractured. Split into three parts across magical lines. And only Ember has the power to piece reality back together again. But to do so, Ember and her friends must steal an powerful artefact from the castle of the evil Crescent Prince.

Evenfall is chock-full of magic and adventure and has the potential to be a really fun series.

What I thought…

Here is a brief list of words I never want to hear again: Argent, Obsidian, Sapphire, Utterly. I’m starting with this because it annoyed me so much. There are a handful of descriptive words that are massively overused in this book and it just irked me something fierce. Now moving away from petty gripes…

The basic premise of Evanfall is actually something I really enjoyed. A world split along magical lines, each inhabited by a population with it’s own unique form of magic. A saviour that has to stitch the world back together or all hell’s going to break lose. Very much my cup of tea. Pure magical fantasy. The execution, however, left a little to be desired.

Actually, that’s not quite fair. There wasn’t a great deal wrong with the execution, it was just too fast! I really struggled to keep track of what was going on, even from one page to the next at times. The basics of the story I could follow, but the specifics I struggled with. It felt like it needed to be longer, just to slow the pace a little. I just found it too intense, and I hadn’t recovered from the last big thing before the next big thing kicked off.

I also felt confused, really quickly. Ember appears in a new world. Not a strange world, a world she literally had no idea even existed until right that second. She immediately meets someone who in no-time-at-all she is best friends with. A little later she encounters the Crescent Prince, the villain of the piece. Keeping in mind she has never heard of him before and only knows anything about him because of minuscule amount her new friend has told her. So obviously, she immediately fears him for no apparent reason. Then even later, she falls head-over-heels in love with him after being kidnapped by him, and completely changes her mind about the man she has been told is a bloodthirsty tyrant after a brief conversation about how much the rest of the world sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, if your negative opinions are based on basically nothing, then I absolutely see why you would change your mind almost immediately when confronted with new information, it just feels a little weird.

Final Thoughts…

Evenfall was an enjoyable, if intensely annoying, read. I’m not sure I’d read it again, but I would definitely read the next book in the series, so take from that what you will.

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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: Illuminating Silence (Master Shen Yeng & Dr John H Crook)

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


Goodreads Link

 

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Ragdoll Rating: 3/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Experienced Buddhist practitioners, people wanting insight on the Chan (Chinese Zen) path

About the Book…

The content of  Illuminating Silence comes from Master Sheng Yen, a Chinese Chan master. The book contains edited transcripts of the talks Master Yen gave over the course of two week-long retreats in Wales. The talks were given in Chinese by Master Yen, translated by a Mr Ming Yee and transcribed by Dr Crook.

What I thought…

I found this book to be difficult but interesting read. I suppose the only review I can give about this book is based in the fact that I am having such difficulty in thinking of anything – at all – to say about it.

There is a great deal to learn from this book, I am sure. I think the key problem for me is that these are transcripts, offered without external commentary. This means that if you find yourself confused or lost (as I often did) there is nothing but Master Yen’s words to guide you through it. What I’m saying is that this book is not for the faint of heart and almost certainly not for the beginner. A lot of Chinese words remain untranslated, and although there is a glossary of terms in the back of the book, the unfamiliar vocabulary was hard to cope with.

It took me a long time to finish this book, nearly a month apparently, and to be honest I really don’t think I could tell you more than one thing I learned while reading it. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything, I distinctly remember many occasions where my understanding of a topic was deepened or a new concept was introduced, I just can’t remember what they were. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, or perhaps I’m just too inexperienced to fully appreciate it.

A lot of time was spent dedicated to dissection of a poem, most of which was lost on me. I’m not good with poetry at the best of times, and poetry in translation…eek!

During my reading, I made a note of one line, something I almost never do. “It is not important to get enlightened quickly.” This, coupled with frequent reminder that you still have to practice even post-enlightenment stuck with me, and actually I think this message on it’s own made the book worth reading.

Final Thoughts…

This book is a tough read, and is probably much more enjoyable with an improved understanding of the topic. Perhaps I’ll read it again some day and find it more accessible.

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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: The Lady in the Cellar (Sinclair McKay)

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


Goodreads Link

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Crime fans, Victorian history fans.

About the Book…

A body is discovered in the coal cellar of a boarding house, and the lives of the Bastendorff family are thrust into the national press to be critiqued, analysed and slandered. Who was the mysterious corpse, what had happened to her, and who hid her body in the cellar?

What I thought…

I think this is probably the first ‘True Crime’ book I’ve ever read, and I’m not gonna lie, it took some serious work to get into it. Presumably if you’re big in to True Crime you are used to the line between fact and fiction being trod, the narrative reading like it came from a really good documentary. But I’m not, and it took some adjustment. Having said that, once I switched my internal voice to that of Tony Robinson (of Time Team and Blackadder fame) I found this book to be both enjoyable, and easy to read.

 

The book provides you with the facts of the case, alongside a smattering of Victorian history, which actually proved to be almost as interesting as the plot itself, but then I’m a bit of a history geek so…

The big problem I had with this book was the ending. There’s no spoilers here, it’s an unsolved case so there is nothing to ruin. Since the case is unsolved, the last part of the book is dedicated to what the investigating officer might have thought, if he even thought about it at all. It’s pure fantasy. I have nothing against pure fantasy, but I do have a problem with the only scenarios explored where ones where mentally ill characters committed a gruesome murder. It doesn’t sit right with me that out of the million and one ways the murder could have been carried out, only these two were selected for examination. In great detail I might add. It really spoiled the book for me if I’m honest.

Final Thoughts…

It took work to get into it, and I hated the ending, but I still think it’s worth a read.

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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: Tardy Bells and Witches Spells (Sarina Dorie)

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


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of magical romance

About the Book…

Tardy Bells is the tragic story of a teenage nerd who wants to be a witch. Clarissa Lawrence is a geek. She loves Star Trek and Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings, and she loves magic. But her wish for magic turns sour when, after an incident at the Oregon Country Fair, where Clarissa’s sister becomes convinced she will be murdered by Clarissa before her 18th birthday.

What follows is a tale of magical discovery and teenage romance.

What I thought…

I really enjoyed this book, it was another one of those can’t-put-it-down reads where, had I not had other things to do, I would have read it all in one sitting. I hate how much I relate to Clarissa, the 14 year old girl inside me was crying out the whole way through screaming “Oh my god YEEEEESS!” She is a nerdy little girl who doesn’t fit in, struggles at school and has a group of weird friends. She is a total underdog and you can’t not root for her. Her sister is the preppy, beautiful popular cheerleader. Clarissa’s life reads like a story book, which for a character so heavily influenced by fiction seems highly appropriate.

It is established that Clarissa is geeky by namedropping all the various geeky things she enjoys, from Star Wars to My Little Pony. I understand why it was done, it was just super irritating.

Also, I hate Clarissa’s mother. I personally feel that the events of this story, much like the events in Disney’s Frozen, could have been easily avoided if the child’s parents weren’t total morons. Clarissa’s mother goes out of her way to make Clarissa think magic doesn’t exist, allegedly for her own protection. To whit, she has drugged her daughter since birth, and after an argument, literally burned every magic related item Clarissa owned, which was about 90% of her stuff. When Clarissa’s sister gets abducted at the Country Fair and comes home raving about how Clarissa is going to murder her, instead of sending the sister to a psychiatrist or something, the whole thing seems to be put on Clarissa. Her mum hates Derrick because she senses magic in him, and worries Clarissa’s magic will surface by association. Now to her mums credit, that is exactly what happened, but realistically if she had done the sensible thing and talked to her daughter about the situation like a normal person, the terrible things that happen throughout the book might have been avoided. Infuriating, but good reading.

The story is paced well and reads nicely. The writing style is informal, I suppose very much in the way you would expect a well-read 14 year old to recount things. It makes for very easy reading. I love Clarissa and Derick as characters, I see so much of myself in both of them, which was really nice. I just want them to be happy! I’m so pathetic!

Final Thoughts…

This really is a book for the outcast weirdos out there. This book is a fun little read, that I couldn’t put down. It’s a little weirdly written at times, and the constant name dropping bugged me, but I’m glad I read it and will definitely be reading the rest of the series (I have the next 2 downloaded already!)

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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: Dinosaur Jazz (Michael Panush)

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


Goodreads Link

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of  classic fiction novels, action adventure and dinosaurs.

About the Book…

The island of Acheron is an incredible place. A land where all manner of prehistoric creatures live in conjunction with ‘ape men’ and humanity. Acheron is a hugely popular tourist destination, made all the more popular by the absence of prohibition. Drinkers, gamblers, cutthroats and gangsters mix with hunters, holiday makers and the wealthy elite all across this impossible island.

Sir Edwin Crowe (son of the island’s discoverer) is a dinosaur guide and gentleman adventurer. But when a sinister corporation tries to take control of his island home, Crowe and his rag-tag band of associates find themselves in the middle of a war.

This book runs strongly in the vein of classic pulp adventure novels.

What I thought…

I have some very conflicting thoughts about this book. It has me in two (or more) minds, and it was very hard to rate.

On it’s surface, I love it. I love the concept – think Jurassic Park in the 30’s with a big dollop of Indiana Jones thrown in and you’re not far off. The story is exciting – it’s definitely a page turner. Conceptually it’s right off my Christmas list. Which leads me to my other thoughts.

First off, let’s talk about racism. I get that it’s set in the 30’s (or 20’s, or whenever prohibition was), but when you’re telling a story about a time-travelling island full of dinosaurs and crazy warlords,  I think you’ve already thrown out enough ‘realism’ to avoid referring throwing in negro or oriental, or repeatedly calling one character the Jew lawyer. Call me ‘snowflake’ all you want, scream ‘historical accuracy’ until you’re blue in the face, but when you’ve got dinosaurs and time travelling magic ruins and a white dude who thinks he’s Genghis Khan reincarnate, you can afford a bit of racial sensitivity. Actually while I’m on the subject of race stuff, I may as well throw in that every single non-white or non-British/American is a criminal or a gangster or a smuggler. Every. Single. One. Plus the ‘Ape Men’ are treated as savages and servants etc. Don’t get me wrong, Panush was aiming for a certain literary style, and he absolutely nailed it, I just personally felt it was unnecessary.

That said the writing was, if a little weird at times, pretty solid and very enjoyable. The main character was actually kind of annoying, but that was more to do with my own personal taste than the writing. My favourite characters were, as far as I’m concerned, CRIMINALLY underutilised, but I’m hoping I might learn some more about them in the next book.

Final Thoughts…

Panush has absolutely nailed the feel of the genre, and written a really entertaining story to boot. It’s just a shame about the time period.

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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!