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Review: City of Glass (Mortal Instruments): 3

City of Glass book review

Introduction

The end of the trilogy, a trilogy that started out a bit meh, but really found its feet. The third installment, City of Glass, rounds off the story in a satisfying way, answering questions, but not all of them.

There is certainly enough mystery left over to entice readers over into the next books, but I appreciate the author giving readers an off ramp if they decide to take it.

City of Glass picks up straight after City of Ashes, and dives straight into the story. It’s fast paced and there’s a lot going on, So, how did I like it?

What I liked

I mentioned in my review of City of Ashes that it improved on the first book in pretty much every way, and the same can be said again about City of Glass. The story feels more crucial to the Shadowhunter world, and people actually seem to be taking note of what’s going on, finally!

This time, all the characters felt more fleshed out. It’s been a peeve of mine that most of the characters have just felt sidelined, but in the third installment most of them got a good amount of page time, even Valentine became a little more than just a boring villain.

We finally get to see the world of the Shadowhunters, and as I mentioned, there seems like people finally have some urgency. The great thing is, that even with everything going on, the story never really moves away from our main cast. I liked the fact that we got to focus on them, and what they were doing.

The pace definitely picked up and the story really flowed, and as mentioned above, it answers enough questions and leaves a few lingering to entice you over into what comes next!

What I disliked

There was little that I disliked this time, but one thing that annoyed me was Simons arc. It seemed like it had been tossed in there to create some tension and give him a reason to bridge the gap between himself and the main group of Shadowhunters, but nothing was really done with it. His story seemed high stakes to start with, and then it’s put on hold and nothing happens with it.

Sebastian. His character is just annoying, and it seemed like another attempt at throwing in a love triangle for the sake of it. He didn’t work, his story was predictable. Speaking of predictable, the grand reveal. We all saw it coming right? Right?

Finally, and probably my biggest complaint about this whole trilogy, is Valentine. He’s the big bad, but he doesn’t really do much. He shows up every so often, delivers some emotionless lines, then everyone reflects on how upset they are by their past and links to him. As a villain he is simply a plot device and nothing else. He gains a little more depth in this final book, but not enough to make me care if he wins or not.

Audible Narration

We’ve got the same narrator who took over book two, and yet again the performance is great. The delivery of the characters works, it’s easy to follow who is speaking, and the whole thing just flows so nicely.

Production value was really good and I didn’t notice any weird sound errors or anything like that. Definitely worth checking this book out on audio if you can!

Speaking of, if you haven’t already then you can grab a free trial of Audible. Worth seeing if listening to books works for you or not.

Conclusion

By the time I got to the end of this book I found myself craving more. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and considering how rough the start to the trilogy was, that really shows how good the improvement was.

By the time I reached the end I even felt the story tugging at my heart strings. I was cheering on the characters and hoping that things turned out great for them. I’m not normally that invested, but somehow this won me over.

I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you get the chance.

Grab it on Audible

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Review: City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments): 2

Introduction

The follow up to City of Bones: Mortal Instruments book 1, City of Ashes improves in almost every single way possible. It still follows a very similar theme to what we saw in the first book, but pretty much everything that frustrated me in that first book is gone.

What I liked

The characters, although still a little hollow if they’re on the sidelines, are vastly improved. The major players all feel like they have some real personality now, and they’re no longer quite so sexually frustrated. The romance thing has been toned down, and there are far less cringe moments.

The book follows on from the first and does a good job expanding on what we’ve already seen. It’s pacing is good and the writing is very well done without too much hand holding once again.

City of Ashes borrows far less from other stories, and delivers its own thing this time which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story felt off at some points, but for the most part I really enjoyed what was happening, and the interaction between characters.

What I disliked

My biggest complaint is that the nothing really feels very urgent. We’ve got the big bad who is about to raise an army of demons, he’s then going to destroy the Shadowhunters, but no one apart from our main group really cares.

There are a few excuses for this, but in my opinion none of that holds any water which is frustrating.

Also, without too many spoilers, but what’s with this hidden romance? I reckon the big grand reveal I’m not meant to see coming is that Jace and Clary aren’t really related? Maybe, who knows?

My final thing that was a bit frustrating is that the side characters are really just there to be mentioned. Our core characters definitely got more time to shine, but anyone outside of the main group is really poorly fleshed out, especially Valentine!

Audible Narration

This time around we got a new narrator, who does a very good job of picking up where the last left off, only this time the characters sound so much more individual.

In the last review I talked about everyone sounding sassy and petulant, but that doesn’t crop up this time. The narration shines throughout, and I really enjoyed listening to it and would highly recommend consuming this story in that format.

Conclusion

Although there didn’t seem to be as much happening in this book, I enjoyed it a lot more than the first. The characters were much better, and the story felt like it was its own thing without borrowing too much from other places.

If you liked the first book, then you’ll want to try the second one out as well. If you’ve not read either, then it’s worth while starting the series. I’m enjoying it a lot more now that I’ve finished the second!

Grab it on Audible

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Review: Altered Carbon – Audible

Altered Carbon audible book review

Introduction

Altered Carbon is the first in a trilogy by Richard K. Morgan that follows Takeshi Lev Kovacs as he sets out to solve a murder/suicide. With it being set in the future there are plenty of sci-fi themes and some really powerful questions put to the reader regarding humanity and technology.

So, how was it?

Liked

This is one of those things that people will either love or hate. Internal monologue, there’s a lot of it. In my opinion it suits the whole theme of the book. There’s a lot for a person to understand and the constant internal struggle of adapting to the ideas this futuristic world brings are brilliantly highlighted through this.

For some, this will make things seem a little long winded as a lot of the time it doesn’t advance the story, but I absolutely loved the reflection on the world. There are a lot of themes and topics that could have been skipped by, but this perspective was constantly there and I loved it.

I loved the story and at first I was worried that the Netflix show was based entirely off the book, scene for scene, but they quickly pull apart. The book feels a lot more satisfying in it’s conclusion and definitely feels like it has much better villains.

Throughout I was constantly guessing what was going to happen next, and I thoroughly enjoyed Kovacs point of view throughout.

Disliked

One of my only complaints was that some of the supporting characters felt pretty poor. They were there, and the interactions between Kovac and them was always entertaining, but a lot of them got very little page time.

Also, there were a few scenes that I felt could have benefited from being a little more fleshed out, but it might have upset the pacing.

Audible

The performance was solid throughout and the narrator did a really good job capturing the different characters. The voices were different enough to help me distinguish who was speaking at any time which really added to the depth.

It was a little slow in places, but the narrator did a fantastic job bringing even these portions to life.

Conclusion

If you’re a sci-fi fan then this is a must read. It can be a little slow at times, but the themes throughout are really powerful and the story is great. I absolutely loved reading this book and can’t wait to check out the second in the trilogy.

A worthwhile read and I’d definitely recommend it!

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Review: Alien 3 Audible Exclusive

alien 3 audible book review

Introduction

Alien 3 is an Audible adaptation of William Gibsons unmade script for the film, featuring Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen. The whole thing is voice acted with plenty of sound effects that really add to the atmosphere.

It recently came out and I’ve been meaning to get around to listening, and now I have, I think it’s time for my review.

Liked

The performances in this book are fantastic. Just like other Audible performances, this does not disappoint when it comes to quality. The actors are brilliant and really help to bring the story to life.

There’s also a lot of nostalgia attached to this with two of the original actors returning to voice the characters from Alien. This was a nice touch and they both sound fantastic.

There were some new ideas here and we got to explore a little more about the universe that the trilogy takes place in. I enjoyed the idea of there being another faction of space and tensions between these two forces. A lot of the ideas aren’t massively fleshed out, but they’re fun when they crop up.

Disliked

To be honest there was quite a lot to dislike about this. As spot on as the performances were, things just didn’t work that well.

Unlike other Audible editions of the Alien franchise, this one didn’t leave me with a full mental image of what things looked like. The hybrid for example, what is it? What’s it look like?

The way these performances are done leave little time for description, but after a very descriptive monologue from Bishop we could done with that again after the first hybrid. Maybe a run down of what it’s like vs a Xenomorph? It just felt a bit lacking which is disappointing.

Also, what was going on with the guy from weapons division? It’s like they decided they need the classic bad guy from Wetland Yutani, but his motives for his actions were unclear. Was he trying to trap everyone and keep the Aliens alive until the colonists got there? Was he trying to stop it escaping? I’ve no idea.

Too short! This isn’t always a bad thing as these performances are excellent quality, but when the pacing is off like it is here, it leads to a very cramped ending. There’s a lot of build up that plays on nostalgia and then everything goes made in the last half hour. Nothing really happens apart from what seems to be setting up for another story to follow.

Infection? So we have Aliens that are like zombies? I really didn’t like this direction, and they did precious little with the idea. It just kind of happened and never got explored like most of the new ideas in this performance.

Conclusion

Honestly it sounds like I didn’t enjoy this which is wrong, I really did have a good time listening, it’s just that Audible has had some amazing Alien franchise performances that outstrip this by a mile.

I got to the end and felt this is just an introduction to a whole new story that is going to follow, but this was purely set up. That’s not a bad thing, but compared to other stories that really built their characters and the places they were in, it just doesn’t live up.

If you’ve got a few hours to spare and enjoy Alien, then it’s worth giving a go. The performances are fantastic and it’s an OK story that leans heavily on nostalgia. I had a good time listening, you’ll just need to have lower expectations and not hope that this truly makes amends for Alien 3. Maybe it’s just a cursed title?

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Review: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments): 1

city of bones review

Introduction

This is a series I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, following a girl who finds out she’s a Shadowhunter after her mum is kidnapped. The world is full of vampires and demons, and she needs to figure out who has her mum and why.

Along the way she discovers the darkness of New York, and meets a team of new friends.

What I liked

The world created and the story telling is great fun. Honestly, I had a blast getting to know this world, and some of the ideas are really good. When this story actually tells its own stuff, that’s when it shines.

There isn’t too much hand holding throughout, with new ideas and monsters just showing up without too much to bog them down. This keeps the pace flowing very nicely throughout.

Speaking of pace, that’s one of the strong points. The story doesn’t really get bogged down trying to be something it’s not which really helps the flow.

What I disliked

The characters. Honestly, if they’d have been just a few years older then some of the themes and ‘romances’ wouldn’t have been an issue, but as it is, these seemed wildly inappropriate. These characters seemed so sexually frustrated that it just didn’t fit, and like I said, they needed to be older for this to feel OK.

Throughout it just felt creepy, and really took away from the story. Throw in the fact that almost every single character is crazy sassy, all, the, time, things just get a bit tedious.

As much fun as the story is, this book really struggles when it ‘borrows’ (and I use that word lightly) from other stories. There is enough of a world created to have some fun in, but the author relies heavily on tropes established elsewhere, outright replicating other very well known stories. It really takes you out of the story she’s trying to tell.

Combine that with the fact that every ‘twist’ really isn’t. Any surprise that is built up is so obvious that it left me groaning when it is revealed. This might be because they are straight out of other stories that we all know, but again, they really take away from what could be a good story.

Audible Narration

The narration is actually pretty good and the performance is well done. The quality was definitely there, but the one thing that really lets it down is the narrator constantly playing every character with so much sass. There are scenes where it doesn’t seem at all needed, but every character comes across as petulant and sassy throughout.

Apart from that, the audio book is well worth giving a go.

Conclusion

This really was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the world and the story telling, but the characters lack depth and come off as creepy. I keep hearing that this book is dark and sexy, but we are talking about minors in some cases, so where people get the idea that this is a good thing I’ll never know!

I did have enough fun with the story to carry on to the next book, and hopefully these characters will grow a little more, and fingers crossed we don’t get more borrowed stories.

This book was at its best when it was telling its own story, and adding to the world created. Where it lacked was when it borrowed to heavily from other places.

All in all it’s an OK starting point, but I’m not sure how much things will improve…

The Mortal Instruments: https://amzn.to/3cj5Oz7

City of Bones: https://amzn.to/2PDQtzg

Audio Book: https://amzn.to/2VBCQ7t

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Review: Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume 1 – Vader

Star Wars Darth Vader Graphic Novel

So, I decided to take a look at Marvel’s Darth Vader series, hoping that it would capture the Darth Vader we all know and love and explore some of his backstory. Instead I got something that read more like the annoying Anakin Skywalker from the prequels.

Now, it’s not a bad read, it’s just not a very good one. The story follows Darth Vader after the destruction of the first Death Star, and as you can imagine, Emperor Palpatine is not happy! This should lead to some pretty interesting stories, but instead we get some boring political games between the two dark lords of the Sith.

What I did enjoy about Darth Vader was how much of an unappreciated character he was throughout. He’s treated as an archaic tool by the characters around him, something that should be disposed of, a simple weapon, and this makes things a little more interesting.

Vader clearly doesn’t trust the Emperor, and the feelings mutual. The Emperor is up to something, and Vader want’s to find out what his plans are, while he puts together his own secret force. This takes the story in a direction which brings some new supporting characters on board (relatively annoying ones) and ends with some more characters seeking to replace Darth (they are even more annoying!) Ultimately, the story is pretty generic.

Now the art, that’s pretty good. Some of the scenes look fantastic and the appearance of Vader is captured perfectly. His emotion is drawn incredibly well considering he’s always wearing his armor and helmet, and the reader really gets a feel for what the Sith Lord is thinking and feeling.

The question to ask at the end of all that, is this worth reading? Honestly, probably not. I’m not sure if it’s heading in a better direction, but so far it’s felt extremely weak. The art and style is great, but that’s about it. For something that focuses on such a great character I find it disappointing that his adventures are so generic… so bland…

Fingers crossed things will get better. There are hints towards the end that the Vader we know and love is coming back, so let’s see where that takes us. This is just the opening after all!

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The Remaining Book Review

Book Title: The Remaining

Author: D. J. Molles

Introduction

I got this book from a Goodreads giveaway and I must say, I’m extremely glad I did! I wasn’t expecting much, the plot intrigued me but I didn’t expect to be drawn into this book. I read the first couple of pages, just to check it our before returning to another book I had been reading, and suddenly I was hooked.

Style

The writing style is fantastic. It’s narrative and descriptive, the author clearly knowing more than a thing or two about the subject matter (not the infected, the weapons etc). There’s more than enough level of detail, without being too overpowering, which keeps the pace consistent and the reader interested.

The story is delivered in an interesting way, as mentioned above the pace is excellent. The chapters are pretty lengthy, focusing on a particular time frame or event in each one, hooking the reader and pretty much forcing them to read the next.

Characters

I’ve got to say, the characters are interesting. The main character really is the focus point of this book, the entire thing told from his perspective, which luckily is a pretty intriguing one. There’s a lot of depth to the main character. He’s a soldier, but not over the top all guns blazing, there’s some emotion behind him. As the story progresses we see more of the main character, empathising with him and bonding with him.

The support characters aren’t as strong as Lee, our main character, but they are adequately fleshed out. Again as the story progresses I found myself enjoying them more, growing more attached, but still Lee remains the primary focus.

Plot

The plot really stands out, being different enough to set it apart from other books in this genre. Originally when I read the blurb I expected a typical zombie novel, a strong start, weak middle, followed by an all guns blazing ending. However that’s definitely not the case with The Beginning.

I won’t spoil the plot, but it basically follows the United States Governments contingency plan for when the world falls apart. That contingency is a soldier who is needed to restore order and unite groups of survivors in a world over run by the infected.

I really enjoyed learning more about Lee and his objectives, a different take on the standard zombie novel.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the introduction, I was really surprised by what I read. I didn’t expect much at all but I was really impressed, enjoying the book from start to finish. I’d definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone who is a fan of the world ending type of story. I’ll be starting the second book in the series tonight and I really hope the standard remains as high as the first book! Thoroughly enjoyed it.