BOOK REVIEW | Taking Up Serpents by Ian Sutherland (4 stars)

sutherland_takingupserpents_ebook-600Verdict: Intricate and well-written, with a page-turning ending, this great tech-crime novel surpasses its predecessor in ambition and delivery.

Brody and Jenny are back!

Still recovering from the dramatic events of the last book, and the subsequent loss of Leroy as a friend, Brody is seeking purpose and professional legitimacy. His growth from white hat pen-test hacker to his application for the Vorovsky Mir take-down team at GCHQ is no doubt helped by his relationship with Jenny, who requires honesty (and legal compliance) from him in order to continue their romance – despite the complications this job would bring geographically. But Brody receives another offer which sorely tempts his secretive side, and it might be too early to put his online persona Fingal to rest.

Jenny herself is facing trouble at work. Her boss is relentlessly penalising her for how the last case went; punishing her for making the final arrest and, in his view, making him look like a fool. She too is entertaining a career change, one that might place her relationship with Brody in jeopardy, but then something happens that throws both our favourite hacker and kick-arse policewoman back together, whether they want to be co-workers or not. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab (4 stars)

agos-uk-coverVerdict: A very welcome return to Red London and the lives of Lila and Kell. I’m a bit terrified for the next book.

Question: What’s better than a cross-dressing thief and a royal magician at the end of his tether?

Answer: Nothing.

A Gathering of Shadows picks up a few months after the last book left off. Things in Red London have changed – and not for the better. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb (4 stars)

fool's quest


Verdict: High quality fantasy that feels like catching up with an old friend. Albeit a sometimes remarkably stupid old friend who frustrates you to the point of throttling him.

So, unless you pay no attention to me at all, you might have gathered that Robin Hobb is my Favourite Author of All Time. That’s a pretty heavy mantle to wear because, as the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. When I open a Robin Hobb book, I expect epic. I demand epic and, if I don’t get it, I’m probably going to throw my toys out of the pram. It’s not really Hobb’s fault, either, because I basically think she’s the best person to ever hold a pen. It’s a lot to live up to.

Fortunately, Fool’s Quest delivers on the vast majority of my expectations. Penned with exquisite care, it continues the story of FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool, a.k.a. Lord Golden, a.k.a. Amber, a.k.a. Mage Grey, a.k.a. Beloved. It picks up where Fool’s Assassin ended, with little Bee stolen by the Whites of Clerres, Withywoods in an absolute wreck, the Fool stabbed but healing behind the walls of Buckkeep Castle, and poor Fitz caught up in a tangled web of bad decisions and worse choices yet again.  Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Vicious by V.E. Schwab (4 stars)

viciousVerdict: An excellently written tale of two sociopaths. One of whom you might actually like.  

Victor Vale and Eli Cardale start off as college friends, for lack of a better word. It’s an unhealthy relationship; there’s an almost-love-triangle factor and Victor has a fixation with getting Eli to show his dark side. When Eli comes up with the idea to write his thesis on ‘Extra-Ordinaries’ (EOs), Victor is immediately jealous that he didn’t think of it. So he jumps on Eli’s bandwagon and urges Eli to make his thesis more than just a theory.

What is an EO?

An EO is an Extra-Ordinary person – humans who have died and been brought back with abnormal abilities. Some might call them superheroes. If the idea of heroism wasn’t such a ridiculous idea in this book.  Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (4 stars)

None of the AboveVerdict: I was glued to this good, solid story until the very end. 

I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I bought it, which is exactly why I did. YA Contemporary isn’t a genre I’m wildly familiar with, and I only had a passable knowledge of what it means to be an inter-sex person (otherwise and archaically known as a hermaphrodite).

The story itself is about Kristin, a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex, and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school.

First of all, let me say that Gregorio can write. This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’ll happily be returning to her shelf. What could have been a clunky, complicated “after-school-special” novel was none of the above (see what I did there?). Instead, it was wonderfully written, beautifully paced, informative and engaging – I was hooked from page one. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (5 stars)

The-Rosie-ProjectVerdict: Full marks for this heartwarming, oddball romance.

The Rosie Project was recommended to me by a friend who doesn’t usually share my taste in books, but as I’m trying to expand my reading horizons, I gave it a shot. I was pleased to find myself immersed in a story about a socially awkward scientist who, in a last attempt to find a wife, approaches dating like… Well, a science experiment. Then he finds that love doesn’t quite work like that. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (4 stars)

uk-orig-before-they-are-hangedVerdict: A return to the old school. Underdog battles to the death, blood vengeance, conspiracy and personal growth. 

Before They Are Hanged is the welcome sequel to Abercrombie’s impressive debut, The Blade Itself. It follows the journey that Bayaz, First of the Magi, Malacus Quai, Jezal, Logen Ninefingers and Ferro to retrieve the Seed from the Edge of the World. Continue reading