Posted in blog post, books, brilliance, gore, murder, mystery

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff Spoiler Free Review

Top 5 Wednesday (4)

You know when you’re in such a bad reading slump, that nothing is catching your attention, and every book seems boring? I felt the exact same way recently.

I couldn’t relate to the main character, I didn’t care for the storyline, I didn’t like the writing style. The list of problems was endless, I just could not make my way through an entire book.

And then I found Nevernight.

My God, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff knocked the slump right out of me, blew me away, and has fast become one of my favourite books. It’s currently contending for my book of the year, which is an incredible feat, considering I’ve read some fantastic books so far this year.

Let’s start by talking about what Nevernight is all about, shall we?

Nevernight follows the story of Mia, a girl who grew up in Godsgrave (funnily enough, the title of the second book in this series), and her quest to become an assassin. Yes, this book is about assassins. Can you tell why I was sold immediately?

Mia’s entire family was killed when she was a child, and now she wants revenge on the officials who sanctioned their murders. To do that, she must train under the Red Church, to learn the tricks of the assassin trade so she can exact revenge.

There’s only one problem, there are 27 other people training with her, and there’s only space for 4 new ‘Blades.’ Those who don’t graduate, but survive training, become ‘Hands,’ the servants of the Red Church and its Blades. And Hands don’t get to avenge their dead.

Full of twists and turns, and leaving behind several questions that need answering in the next two in the Nevernight Chronicles trilogy, Nevernight is a fantastic book to read. I loved finding out about the Church, the magic of the world, and about Mia herself. She was a headstrong, cocky, but intelligent character, who didn’t fall into the ‘strong female character because she hits things’ trope. Mia shows intelligence and wit, a strong moral code, despite her chosen profession, and a deep sense of the plight of others. I loved watching her story unfold in front of me.

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Favourite parts of this book:

  • Mia, to start with. As I said above, she was a strong female character, without being exceptionally strong, she was strong in her intelligence, her moral code, and her sympathetic nature. She had her mission, but she still had time for mischief, making friends, and falling in love. I loved her.
  • The flashbacks. Mia’s past is slowly revealed through flashbacks throughout the book, which was far better than giving it to the reader immediately from the off. The flashbacks were also really clearly marked, so it was impossible to get lost between the two timelines. Also, it really helped to humanise Mia further and give the reader a better explanation as to why Mia was on this mission in the first place.
  • The plot twists. I won’t reveal any, but let’s just say that there were one or two that gave me whiplash as I read. I haven’t been hit like that in a long time, and very rarely have I been hit with a plot twist that good in a book.
  • The magic. Nevernight wasn’t a book steeped in magic, it was more that some characters had some level of magic inside them, and nearly all of it was twisted. From people who can change a person’s face from beautiful to horrifyingly ugly, to others who can transport others across the country through pools of blood, magic was seen as fascinating, but something to be feared.
  • Nobody was ever slut-shamed. There’s a lot of sex in this, and it’s not skimmed over either. And yet, nobody was ever slut-shamed, or shamed at all for sleeping with anybody else. The teachers of the Church don’t want anybody out after the ninth bell, but that’s for a completely different reason. Women sleep with men, and nobody is ever told that they are lesser for it. Hell, every acolyte takes a class in seduction! This is a completely free-from- shaming zone, and I loved that.

That’s just a few things I liked about this book, I just generally really, really loved it! I had very few cons, and it was for very small things, such as:

  • I sometimes got lost in fight scenes. But I nearly always do in books, for some reason, I can never properly get my head wrapped around fight scenes. In that sense, I’m definitely a visual person.
  • I wanted a bit more of an explanation and backstory to the bad guy. It didn’t feel like it was just ‘chucked in,’ it had very clearly been mapped out and hinted at throughout the story. But I had just wanted a bit more information on them. Maybe I’ll get it in the sequel, I hope so.

But other than that, I genuinely adored this book. It was exactly what I needed to read right now.

Nevernight is a fast paced, action packed, thrill ride of a book. If you love books about assassins, magic and revenge, and don’t mind a lot of swearing, violence and bloodshed, I would not hesitate to run out and buy this book!

I have to thank Clara, from Clara Reads Books, for recommending this book so much I had to pick it up. It’s brought me out of my horrendous reading slump and given me a new favourite author.

5/5 stars, I cannot wait for the second book!

 

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Posted in blog post, books, brilliance, gore, murder, review, short post

Monsters Of Verity by Victoria Schwab Review

Monsters Of Verity by Victoria Schwab Review

This time last year, I bought a trilogy called A Darker Shade Of Magic by an unknown author to me – V. E Schwab, and I quickly became obsessed with them, devouring every word, feeling like I couldn’t get through it quick enough and find out what happened.

Since then, I’ve had this desperate urge to read more of her work, to see what other stories Schwab could tell, and so, I decided to start 2018 with her duology Monsters Of Verity. 

All I have to say is wow. 

I’ve spent this week essentially binge reading This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet, and both are simply incredible. In concept, storyline, world building, and just about every other way possible.

The books tell the story of Kate Harker and August Flynn. Kate is a human from North City, the daughter of Callum Harker, who keeps monsters as pets and demands payment from citizens for their protection.

August, on the other hand, is a monster, a very rare form of monster, from South City, the adopted son of the leader of the FTF – a group trying to protect humans from the monsters bite. The two meet in school, and soon find themselves on the run, hunted by the monsters Kate’s father is supposed to control, as the cracks of so-called peace start to appear.

What follows is an incredible story, one I couldn’t help but adore every single second of.

At first, I was slightly wary of this duology – it’s a YA, whereas A Darker Shade Of Magic is a more adult series. So I was worried that there was going to be something missing from Schwab’s writing, that it could be dumbed down a bit, possibly sanitised for a younger, more impressionable audience.

Not true.

Not true in the slightest.

This duology is dark, dealing with murder and massacres, fights and fear, bombs and blood. It’s thick with it and doesn’t shy away from talking about it. About the consequences of violence, the sacrifices people make in war, of the ruthlessness of humanity and what that can create. It’s all there, never once talking down to the reader, never treating the reader like they’re anything but intelligent human beings.

From the first page, I was swept up into the story, constantly wanting to read more, entirely engrossed in events unfolding on the page. Just a quarter of the way through book one, I was already telling my mum and best friend to read the books. By the end, I’m not going to let it go until they do.

These books are a must read for any fan of Schwab’s more adult work. They’re a must read for urban fantasy readers. They’re a must read for anyone who likes reading about monsters and violence.

They’re simply a must read.

And, they’re also proof of V. E. Schwab’s writing power. She’s a powerhouse who produces two books a year on average, all high quality, well thought out, and utterly engrossing. I cannot speak highly enough of her writing skill. She’s in my top 3 favourite writers, fighting with the big guns Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

I cannot recommend this duology enough, it is rare that I find a series I want to devour so fast, and this was definitely one of them. If you ever get the chance to read these books, do it. You will not regret it.

Posted in Marvel, murder, review, spoilers

Live Blog Of Marvel’s Punisher

Live Blog Of The Punisher

Friday 17th of November:

Episode One:

A bit of a slow start – Frank Castle has gotten his revenge on those who have killed his family, he’s under a different name, working as a builder. But when other builders get into trouble with a loan shark, Frank gets involved. New characters have been introduced, and the plot is slowly being revealed. Took me a while to get into it, but I’m invested now, so bring on episode two!

Episode Two:

The plot thickens – Frank’s family were not killed by accident, it was on purpose. And Frank is not happy about it. He’s being threatened, Micro is somehow involved, time to track him down and get some answers. Murders have increased now, things are getting a bit more violent like I wanted from this show. Getting excited now!

Episode Three:

Frank has found a ‘man in the chair’ – someone who can help him find the people responsible for all of this, the people who used him as a hitman, and everyone in between. This series is a lot more hard-hitting than I expected it to me. I was expected a lot more violence and less plot, but this is very plot-heavy, and really zeroes in on PTSD and the effects of war on a person. I have no idea if this is accurate to PTSD in the real world, but I like the attempt to highlight it at the very least.

Episode Four:

I don’t trust Ben Barnes’ character, at all. There’s something about him that screams ‘don’t trust me, I’m up to something.’ Even if his army friends trust him, I don’t think I do. Think I’m missing something about why Frank has highjacked a Homeland Security operation, but that could be explained later. That or I’ve missed it because the main TV is on and it’s louder than my laptop, so I keep on missing bits.

Episode Five:

Some good, bloody fight scenes in this episode, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One thing that’s getting to me though is the completely inaccurate medicine or lack thereof. Frank is shot in the shoulder with an arrow, and shot with a bullet in the side, yet manages to run through the woods and taken down several soldiers, before dragging his injured friend through the woods. Frank should surely have died from his injuries, or at least not been able to shoot and fight, yet he managed to take down an elite squad. It was an awesome scene, but medical accuracy people, it is a thing. You can get away with it when you’re talking about Demi-God’s and Hulk’s and superheroes in super suits, not so much with completely human characters.

Episode Six:

PLOT. TWIST. ENDING. But now I sadly have to stop watching for the day because it’s time to get dinner and settle down for some Strictly – It Takes Two, Children In Need and The Last Leg.

Current thoughts – Punisher is a pretty good show, and totally not what I was expecting. I was thinking that this was going to be a lot of mindless blood, guts and gore, but instead, I’ve been given a complex storyline. I’m not totally taken with it, as I’m not really into shows about the army, war and conspiracy theories, but I’m enjoying it well enough. I think Frank needs a superhero like Matt to bounce off of though, that could just be me though, but he felt a lot more interesting and human in Daredevil.

Monday 20th of November:

Episode Seven:

Things are starting to spiral for Frank and several other characters, things are not going to plan at all. The plot twist connection is being explored more in this episode and leaves it on a bit of an ‘oh dear GOD’ kind of moment. It took me a minute to get back into this again, due to a two-day break, but still really enjoying it.

Episode Eight:

It’s really interesting to see how Frank interacts with kids, especially after losing his own. It’s also really interesting to watch another father struggle to be away from his family, especially when they are struggling with his ‘death.’ Billy is a complete psychopath though, and I think he may be my favourite character, simply because he’s constantly murdering people, which is what I expected from this show most.

Monday 27th of November:

Episode Nine:

An episode all about consequences, bombs, and grief. Things are twisting together a bit more, and in other ways, things are hitting the fan. Some people are teaming up together, others are causing more trouble for Frank, and Frank himself has either made a big mistake or has one hell of a plan.

Episode Ten:

More death and violence in this, literally explosive, episode. One threat is gone, other’s villainous nature has been exposed, and everyone, apart from Karen, is gunning for Frank. Really loved the timeline of this episode, showing the different points of view on the situation, and how people use their own goals to change a narrative.

Episode Eleven:

Sweet holy mother of God, The Punisher has arisen! Seeing Frank in the skull-emblazoned bulletproof vest, shooting the living daylights out of the bad guys is absolutely incredible. This is what I wanted from this show – Frank Castle being the famous Punisher, killing the bad guys with never ending bullets and grenades. Best scene of the entire series so far, if the finale has something like that in it, I will be a happy, happy girl!

Friday 1st of December:

Episode Twelve:

Families are rescued, people are captured, and the noose around Billy Russo’s neck tightens. Lots of blood in this episode, which is completely at odds with Frank’s flashbacks to his final morning with his wife. It’s an incredibly interesting contrast, one a thoroughly enjoyed watching playing out. I’ve loved the flashbacks throughout the entire series really, it gave me such a good insight into Frank’s previous life, and exactly what he’s mourning, and why he’s so hellbent on revenge.

Episode Thirteen:

This is it, the conclusion, the final showdown. Frank V Billy, and Billy isn’t playing nicely! Full of blood, dirty fights, and pure violence, Frank’s final showdown is one to watch. What I really enjoyed about this one, was that it wasn’t like the bullet and explosion-heavy fight of episode 9, this was pared down, just two men and their skills, facing off against each other. There was gun use, but it was nowhere near as much as usual, this was more about fists, knives, and skill. In short, I loved it!

Conclusions:

Punisher as a TV series was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting little plot and more mindless violence. Instead, I got a heavy, twisting plot with twists I really did not see coming. I loved the insights into Frank’s time at war, and the contrast between who he is now, and who he was with his family. Billy Russo was a complete psychopath, and watching him come undone was great fun.

While the themes (war, army and government cover-ups) aren’t really my thing, I did still very much enjoy this series, and I will definitely watch more if it ever comes. Personally, I would have preferred more on-screen violence, and maybe some more things tying Punisher to the MCU, but on the whole, this was a very good series. Wonderfully acted, brilliantly scripted, and generally just plain fun to watch! A must for all Marvel fans who don’t mind a whole lot of blood!

Posted in actors, blog post, brilliance, gore, murder, mystery, review, season finale, words, writing

Westworld Goes Down Fighting

westworld-goes-down-fighting

Last night, Westworld’s season finale aired in the UK, and showed every other show of a similar nature exactly how to end a season. With plot twists, a lot of questions answered, and more brought forward, the hour and a half long episode had me hooked from the opening second, right to the very end of the credits.

I’ve been a fan of the show since the start, and in fact wrote a piece on the opening episode on this very blog a few weeks ago. After every episode I was looking up fan theories, trying to figure out what The Maze was, who The Man In Black was, and just what the hell was going on. Last night explained it all. It explained, tied everything together, and created mystery for the next season, all in one go.

In many TV shows like Westworld, the writers generally like to keep you guessing constantly, and use season finale’s to create more questions than answers (I’m looking at you, Lost). Sometimes, TV shows like this don’t give you any answers at all, and it’s up to the audience to interpret everything for themselves. This show though, the writers actually answered almost everything the audience wanted to know.

The Man In Black’s identity was revealed, in a plot twist that had me screaming, even after seeing many internet theories which predicted it. The Maze was explained. Robert’s new narrative was revealed. Some characters got what they wanted, others not so much. Everything tied together beautifully, which really speaks to how well the show was plotted by JJ Abrams and his writing team.

But, can things continue on, if everything has been revealed? Where’s the mystery? What’s to keep the audience coming back?

Simple, with Robert’s new narrative. I won’t give away too many spoilers for those who have not seen the episode yet, but let’s just say that The Man In Black got what he wanted, Wyatt is loose, and there’s a lot more Hosts with a thirst for bloodshed running around.

That, and the new subtly-hinted-at plot points dotted throughout. Who messed with Thandie Newton’s Maeve’s programming, to make her wake up in the first place? Has Dolores gone completely psycho? Why are the Japanese fighter hosts ‘complicated?’ And possibly most importantly, does this mean that there are more parks than just Westworld? Are there more parks, more hosts, more robots waking up and deciding to revolt?

So many questions, so much more to explore in this captivating world. Things I can’t wait to puzzle over and watch unfold. Westworld was a brilliant series, but the finale was a masterpiece in story telling. Other TV shows, take note.

Posted in actors, blog post, brilliance, murder, mystery, review, TV, writing

Westworld Brings Fantasy To Life

Last night I started watching the JJ Abrams show Westworld, and instantly fell in love with it. For those who don’t know, Westworld is a show set in a future where a company makes incredibly human-esque robots, puts them in a ‘park’ make to look like a cowboy western, and let rich people in to carry out their fantasies with them. These fantasies can include murder (of which there is a lot of in this show), sex (again, of which there is a lot of) and basically anything the person wants. All the while, these robots are glitching, remembering what is happening to them, which could put the humans in danger.

Currently there’s only two episodes out, and I have thoroughly enjoyed both episodes. It’s the perfect mix between Channel 4’s Humans and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, just with a lot more blood and violence. And when I say blood and violence, I mean that this should would fit right in with Game Of Thrones and Marvel’s Netflix TV shows. Blood flies as fast as the bullets do, and the creators don’t hold back with it.

Really, the creators don’t hold back on anything in general. This show is created like it has the budget of a film, with enough characters and story lines to keep everybody interested. The acting is superb, as you would expect from the all star cast. Anthony Hopkins’ Doctor Ford is a mystery and Ed Harris’ nameless character is even more so. The way actors like Evan Rachel Wood can instantly jump from being an emotionless robot during a diagnostic, to a terrified human being is incredibly and has to be commended.

Everything adds to the creepy feel of the show, it’s almost enough to put your teeth on edge. All the way through, you’re majorly creeped out, and questioning your own morality. If you were in this situation, would you be one of the good guys, or one of the bad? Would you go and hunt down the bandit, sleep with the prostitutes in the tavern, go hunting for treasure? Would you have an innocent holiday in Westworld, or would you act out every depraved fantasy you’ve ever had?

If you were a fan of Dollhouse back in the day, or Humans now, this is definitely the show for you. It’s clever, sleek, and brilliantly written. Everything is interwoven, mysteries are opening up, and there’s a Jurassic Park-esque feeling that something is going to go wrong at any moment. I love it, and cannot wait for the next episode.