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Bingham, Nottingham

Beyond the Bright Sea Review
There were only a couple of things I enjoyed about this book. I loved the characters and the books setting. These were really fleshed out and gave you a sense of family and community. However, the story itself felt a little dry. We have a mystery: Crow was only a baby when she washed up on an island and was rescued and brought up by a man named Osh, who had a little help from his neighbor, Miss Maggie. Crow is older now and wants to know where she came from. She has an amazing adoptive family but wants to know more. All the people on the neighboring islands believe she hails from the leper colony. This is when the mystery starts. Where does Crow come from? The book doesn't leave you questioning for long. In fact, we find out almost immediately where Crow comes from which is really anti-climatic. The story then becomes a treasure hunt as they search for Crow's inheritance which surprise! They find really quickly too! It all came too easily and quickly. The story lacked suspense or surprise. The antagonist of the story is stupid. He is literally the stupidest thief going! Again anti-climatic bad guy. So what I'm saying is that for me this journey was extremely underwhelming and never sunk its teeth into me. The cast of characters that Wolk created was its only saving grace but they still weren't enough to give this book 3 stars. I feel like others might like it and I went in with too much expectation but there you go. I only wished we had learned more about Osh and Miss Maggie. Those two were the best.
Posted on: 17 Apr 2018

Saint Death Review
When I first started this book I wasn't sure about it. The writing was unlike anything I've read and the world wasn't one I was used to. However, that being said, it wasn't long before I couldn't put this book down. Even when I did I kept thinking about it. We only spend one day with these characters but the book is rich in detail and woe that it feels like much longer. It may only cover a day but you really get to know each character in depth. The book follows themes of unnecessary violence and poverty. You find yourself wondering what it was all for by the end of the book. I will warn you now this isn't a story with a happy ending. It comes full circle at the end and it ends as it starts with death and despair it really makes you think. It's very depressing. I still have no idea how you play the card game they play in the story but I could still follow those sections. Great storytelling as per usual and different take for Sedgwick.
Posted on: 17 Apr 2018

Release Review
I was enticed by Release as I wondered what sort of story this was going to be. How a vengeful spirit would entwine into this boys life. However, after reading the story I am only left perplexed. The two storylines remain separate all the way through. Adams story is really well rounded; we see a segment of his life as he tries to get over an old flame. He has trouble at work and with his family and its very much a coming of age story. It has heart and drama and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The problem occurs when the 'Queens' story comes into play. A dead girls spirit doesn't pass over and instead hijacks the 'Queen' who I can only imagine is the Queen of the underworld but I am not entirely sure as her origins are never explained or elaborated on. She just is and we have to accept it. This story follows a spirit trying to seek revenge on the person who killed her and entails carnage and a fawn who may/may not be a cannibal. This storyline was really messy and had me scratching my head a lot at times. I am not sure why Ness brought the two unrelated stories together. Maybe I missed the point? I am not sure. I really enjoyed the writing and the stories if I counted them separately. My issue with this book was that they didn't mesh at all and the 'Queens' story made little sense as we never knew what was truly going on there. I have judged this review on the Adam storyline alone as I enjoyed that a lot but unfortunately, this book left me wondering a bit too much.
Posted on: 17 Apr 2018

After the Fire Review
I really enjoyed this book. I am fascinated by the concept of cults so even though this was fiction I could tell Will had done a lot of research to make it feel authentic. Moonbeam's journey through the Before and After stages of the book were amazing. I was hanging onto every word and wondering what was going to happen next or what story she would tell next. The characters were interesting and even though we didn't meet them for long they left an impression. Each person had their own motivations, personality and place in the story. There were no characters that seemed like spare parts. They each had a very important role to play. This was great as you never felt like 'why am I reading about them again?' As you went through Moonbeams story I could feel my attitude change towards certain people all the time. I can't say too many bad things about this book apart from its length. There were some parts of the book that didn't need to be there but added filler between stories and scenarios Moonbeam found herself in. I guess they had to be there but I did find myself skipping the sections in her cell as they weren't as interesting. A great book with a great ending. I have to admit I didn't see it ending as it did. A part of me isn't glad it was a happy ending. Throughout the story Moonbeam is always hearing a voice in her head and a tiny bit of me hoped that despite thinking she was 'ok' all the way throughout we would see her true colours at the end and learn she was utterly mad and started the fire. But I guess Will settled for nice ending which was also lovely.
Posted on: 17 Apr 2018

The Smell of Other People's Houses Review
I had mixed feelings about this book when I started reading it. The introduction of the four characters is quite confusing, but as the story develops you learn to engage with each character and the traumas of each. I love books where the characters begin to unfurl with each other, and this book does it so well. It had a kind of old fashioned charm about it and in the words of chapter 11 "If you must smoke, smoke salmon."
Posted on: 24 May 2017

Star at Oktober Bend Review
It took me about 70 pages before I engaged with this book. It's style is very poetic and arty so it's difficult to grasp what's actually going on at times. I understand the reasoning behind this style as it's meant to paint a better picture of how Alice thinks and sees the world. It's very unique but still the storytelling does suffer as it's voice isn't easy to follow at times. I like the relationship between all the characters. Most of them have suffered a great deal but I feel like this isn't quite captured in the writing. Manny for a start seemed rather put together despite what he'd seen. I guess it's hard to know how someone would be after what Manny had been through but the portrayal of this character for me seemed a bit unbelievable. Although the style was unique and some lines at times were truly blissful to read I do feel that it also crippled the story. The story also seemed to be a non story. For me the story wasn't truly told until the last 7 or so chapters. It seemed like a snippet from someone's life. Nothing truly remarkable. I wasn't sure what it's purpose was in the end. Even though I struggled with this book and didn't see it's point, it was still a nice story with an interesting voice. Not sure if the author pulled it off but it was an interesting interpretation.
Posted on: 22 May 2017

Salt to The Sea Review
'She is salt to the sea' I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand the book is powerful and packs a huge punch to the gut when you're reading it. Knowing that these atrocities were someone's reality in history is deeply upsetting. I haven't read many books that discuss this side of WWII. It's voice was unique and sad. That being said I struggled at times to invest in the novel due to the way it was told. The story flicks between 4 characters rather rapidly. At most each person gets 2 pages to their name. I found this very disorientating and hard to keep up with as we jumped from Florian to Emilia etc. I have a feeling this broken writing almost helped convey the disorientation at the time but I found it a bit to much. I also found Alfreds character a bit of an anomaly. Unlike the others I felt he didn't have a story worth telling or one that should belong next to the others. The book had some amazing visual sections like the ice walk and the boat at the very end but other than that I was always finding myself wondering 'where is this going?' What exactly is the plots end game? The story didn't really have an end game and it didn't really have a beginning or an end it was simply a segment of time documented by the 4 characters in the book. This might be ok for some but again I struggled to stay focused as the plot didn't guide me or intrigue me. Of course these minor issues I had with 'salt to the sea' are of no fault to Ruta. This book was perhaps just not my cup of tea in terms of how it was presented or told. But the book is one that will probably stay with me because of its subject. Emilia in her pink woolly cap was truly beautiful.
Posted on: 22 May 2017

Railhead Review
For a while I was a bit wary about giving this book a full 5 stars but the more I thought about it the more I realised "damn I can't stop thinking about this book!" Of course it has flaws. It's not a hard thinking sci fi novel. There isn't any explanation behind any idea or concept in this book. It's simply stated and you just roll with it. In a way I didn't mind. As the book is written from many teens perspectives it makes sense not to be bogged down with all that information as they simply did not know. This makes the book a constant mystery and the curiosity will drive you on. Characters like Raven and the guardians will peak your curiosity and you never really get an answer of what's truly going on... this of course can be frustrating but honestly I can't wait for the next adventure so clearly this ploy worked. The world is rich, the ideas fun and ultimately I wanted to stay in this bizarre place. The characters were awesome and I found my self on an emotional roller coaster ride as my favourite characters failed or just didn't survive. Which brings me on to another small issue... I wish we knew more about certain people and less about others. Threnody for example was an annoying and uninspiring character and I would have preferred more light cast on Zen's sister instead. But I feel like Reeve focused on Threnody if only to set up stories for future books. Even though characters were a mystery and epic I did find some people's stories were literally told by them and that was that. Which was a shame as you felt like "yep that's them now let's move on" and most of the time I wanted to know more! There was one moment in the story where something truly horrific happened and it's never really dwelled on by Zen or Nova which I found quite odd. For young travellers thrust into this scenario I thought there would be a lot more grief or brokenness from both of them after being involved in this event. But they simply moved on straight away which was a little odd and made you go " wait maybe Zen is a bit of a psycho" which I guess would explain why he went along with Ravens plan in the first place xD. So characters amazing, world amazing and story amazing! If anything I just wished to know more about everything. Yet that being said, even though the book was split into very distinctive parts some areas did suffer from pacing problems or just moments where you were left going "why did we need to know that or do that" But I have given it 5 stars because I want more! And I love the trains. Every time a train died I felt so sad!!! Literally you will feel more for the trains and robots in this book than the humans and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Also Hive monks!
Posted on: 04 May 2017