Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Review (No Spoilers)

 

Photo on 2018-07-17 at 4.17 PM.jpg

This week’s novel is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This is the second instalment in J.K. Rowling’s insanely popular Harry Potter series. A series that was without a doubt the central building block in my love of reading and fantasy. Prior to cracking this book open I hadn’t really it in quite a long time, preferring to keep my memories fond.

To no surprise of mine, it held up completely. Chamber of Secrets builds upon and expands the magical world of the first book. As I wrote about in my previous Harry Potter review, the novels are mystery books masquerading as action fantasy books. The mystery in this novel is just as engaging and well put together as in the first book. A mysterious monsters running around the school attacking people. What’s not to love?

The character building continues also, especially between Harry and Ron, this book helps build the bromance that will grow and be challenged throughout the whole series. Other memorable characters are introduced (yay Dobby!) and overall the Harry Potter world is expanded and made deeper.

The book builds to a great conclusion with Harry, Ron, and Hermione doggedly searching for clues, slowly putting the pieces together just in time. The final showdown is pulse-pounding and sets up events that happen down the line. In fact, if you look at the series as a whole, Chamber of Secrets is one of the most important, with the gang learning things that will come in handy down the road.

Honestly I could talk about this book for a lot longer but I don’t want to get into spoiler territory for anyone who hasn’t read them. Although if you haven’t then I pity you. This book is great, Harry Potter in general is great and that’s not the nostalgia talking. (At least not all nostalgia). There’s a reason that this series is one of if not the most popular and successful of all time. They’re simply magical. I’m going to be working my way through the series, reviewing each book so look forward to that!

You can pick up my Novels on Amazon HERE

You can follow me  on twitter @jameslikesbooks

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.

Advertisements

World War Z Review (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2018-06-22 at 12.06 PM.jpg

Today’s blog post is World War Z by Max Brooks. This is easily one of my favourite books, one that I’ve read half a dozen times. The main structure of the novel is a variety of anecdotes from humanity about the zombie war. The tone of the book is serious and due to this the stories are engaging and each one grabs your attention.

Chilling and engaging, I always tear through the novel in a matter of days, it’s one of those rare novels that is nearly impossible to put down. Honestly, it might be my very favourite piece of zombie related media, whether that be books, movies or whatever. It’s just great.

When reading you can tell that Brooks  took a serious and exhaustive look at what could actually happen if the zombie apocalypse happened. Nothing campy, just realistic scenarios. Sure it’s odd to say that it’s realistic, I mean its a zombie book but it doesn’t feel like pure fantasy. Theres a devastating logic to the way things progress.

The acendotes are chock full of fascinating characters and locations. There’s not much to say about it that doesn’t give spoilers and this is a novel that you don’t want spoiled. Going in fresh is the best way to experience World War Z.

If you like zombies at all then you should have already read the book. And if not then what are you waiting for? It sounds like I’m hyping it up out of control but I believe it deserves all of the praise that I’m giving.

I should address the movie but I won’t, I don’t want to rant too much. All you need to know is that pretty much all the movie and the book share is a title. I mean the zombies aren’t even the same, which is ridiculous.

The book however, is a great read, quick, chilling and engaging. what else could you want? So if you haven’t picked it up yet then what are you waiting for?

You can buy my novels on Amazon HERE

You can follow me on twitter @jameslikesbooks

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get updates and giveaways!

Oathbringer Review (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2018-04-19 at 12.13 PM.jpg

This week’s book is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This is the third novel in the Stormlight Archives series. At 1233 pages, this book is a monster. It took me quite a while to finish, though not just because of the large page count. I’m going to preface this review by saying that my opinion does seem to be in the minority here, though I have seen some people echo what I’m about to say.

Firstly, I did enjoy this book. I loved the first two, and I was extremely excited to get my hands on Oathbringer. There was a number of things that I did like, as I made my way through it. The world-building that Sanderson laboriously expands is beyond impressive. This book expands the story and the world beyond even what the first two did.

However, this is part of what soured my perception of this novel. There are two things that can ruin my enjoyment of a book, excess world-building at the expense of plot and too many flashbacks. This novel is long, well over a thousand pages. A lot has to happen in order to justify that length, in my opinion. The long and the short of my complaint is that not enough actually happens to justify all the pages. The plot progresses sure but not nearly as far as I thought it would. Honestly, it felt like the story ran out of steam.

Contributing to this was the extreme use of flashbacks. I’m not saying they didn’t serve a purpose, because they clearly did. They character built, and expanded the history of the world. However, they did this at the expense of the plot in my opinion. Every flashback slowed down the story. A story that was already pretty darn slow. For many people this is fine but I found it grating.

Essentially, it just felt like the plot was third fiddle in this instalment, behind world building and character development. In all fairness this is what made a lot of people love Oathbringer. Unfortunately I’m a plot first kind of a guy.

All this is not to say that it was a bad novel, because it wasn’t. Just in comparison to the first two I felt like it suffered. Which considering how good they are, is not too surprising. I’m still excited for the fourth entry, I just hope that it does a better job of continuing the momentum of the overall story.

I won’t say too much more about it, because I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. If you’re a fan of fantasy and you haven’t read any of the Stormlight Archive, I would recommend picking up The Way of Kings and giving it a go. This really is one of the most ambitious and interesting fantasy series of all time in my opinion.

You can follow me on twitter a t@jameslikesbooks

You can pick up my novels on Amazon HERE 

 

James Reads Pawn of Prophecy By David Eddings (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2018-03-28 at 12.25 PM.jpg

Pawn of Prophecy By David Eddings is this week’s book. This novel is the first one in the Belgariad. At the time of writing, this books is coming up on forty years old. And it shows. It’s hard to judge this book taken out of it’s time and thrust into modern times. It feels dated in some parts, especially in regards to it’s female characters, something that I’ve notice in other Eddings books.

However the novel is still enjoyable and entertaining. The characters are likeable enough and the plot is engaging if super predictable. The real strength is the world building with is robust and very deep. Gods and magic and prophecy, are all woven pretty deftly.

Honestly there just isn’t much I can say about the novel. If i’d read it as a younger man I would have liked it a lot better. I don’t want to write a criticism because it wouldn’t be fair to compare it against modern works. Books that built upon the legacy that Eddings created. Things fine are tropes now probably weren’t back then.

To sum up, this book just felt kind of left me feeling empty. It almost felt like a two hundred page prologue. It sets the stage for the next book but didn’t really leave me with a burning desire to pick them up.

But that’s okay, not all art ages well. Clearly this novel was very popular when it came out and people loved it. I just wasn’t around then and I probably lost out on the magic. Due to this I can’t really recommend this book like I can others of his. (The Elenium for instance I love.)

You can follow me on Twitter at@ James Bee

You can pick up my novels on Amazon here

 

James Reads Jingo By Terry Pratchett (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2018-03-21 at 12.39 PM.jpg

The Pratchett’ing continues this week with Jingo. Jingo is the 21st Discworld novel and the 4th in the City Watch series. Personally, I love the City Watch books. The characters feel like old friends, and the City of Ankh-Morpork is one of my favourite locations in all of fiction, right up there with Hogwarts and the Shire.

This novel really gives the characters of the City Watch room to do their thing.The plot focuses on the reemergence of an atlantean type continent which promptly begins to be fought over by Ankh-Morpork and a rival nation, despite it being a desolate, blasted rock.

This book is surprisingly relevant to current day politics on the global stage. The books title Jingo is a direct reference to Jingoism. Jingoism is defined as “extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy.” This is clearly something that is growing even more present in our current society.

In this book Pratchett dissects and makes fun of aggressive patriotism, racism and xenophobia. The rival faction Klatch is an obvious analog for the middle east and by facing them against Ankh-Morpork, you get a pretty robust comparison. Thought the novel Pratchett shows the dangers and folly of extreme aggressive patriotism, mainly by highlight the character ignorance and also showing how a like people can be, despite living in wildly different places.

Honestly, it’s a bit eerie and more than a little depressing how spot on this novel is, being that it was written in 1997.

The story itself is classic Discworld fun. Vimes is on a case, hunting for criminal, accompanied by the Night’s Watch. What’s more, they get to go traveling to a distant land, creating some ridiculous and hilarious situations. The plot is engaging and has enough twists and turns to keep you more than engaged. The characters live and grow throughout, learning lessons and passing trials.

Overall, this is a very good book, even by Discworld standards. The combination of delightful, entertaining plot combined with the biting satire create a novel that is as relevant today as when it was published. I would recommend this book to anyone, be they a fantasy fan or not. It contains an important lesson, one that many people need to hear in the times we live in today.

You can follow me on Twitter @jameslikesbooks

You can pick up my novels on Amazon Here    

Wyrd Sisters Review (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2018-02-02 at 12.07 PM.jpg

The Terry Pratchett train continues with Wyrd Sisters. January is such a bleh of a month that I guess I just needed to read something lighthearted and easy. Wyrd Sisters fits that description perfectly. It’s the sixth Discworld novel and the second in the Witches series.

I’ve seen many people praise the witches novels as Pratchett’s best. More specifically the character of Granny Weatherwax. If you’d asked me my opinion before reading this book, I would have told you that Death was my favourite character and it would have been an easy choice. Now, I find doubt creeping into my mind. Weatherwax and the other witches are such deep and interesting characters. You can’t help but love them.

Sir Terry is known for using the disc world to satirize fantasy tropes and the world at large and this novel is no different. Here the concept of destiny and the traditional story of the hero coming to save the kingdom from a evil usurper. Essentially Wyrd Sisters is the first Lion King movie if there was three Rafiki’s.

The plot is interesting and moves at a quick pace. The characters face a real challenge that they have to overcome and they do. Everything ties in together well without the ending feeling cheap. The word satisfying comes to mind, and that’s really what this story is. It’s one of the most well crafted Pratchett novels I’ve read.

Really, there isn’t much more to say about it. The characters are great, the plot and setting are vibrant, the satire is sharp enough for any fantasy fan. Essentially, the hype around the Weatherwax books is extremely warranted and so I would have to recommend this novel to any fantasy fan, especially any that love witches, and magic and all that occult goodness.

You can follow my reading and writing adventures on twitter at@jameslikesbooks

and you can pick up my novels on Amazon HERE

And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to receive updates and other goodies!

The Light Fantastic Review (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2018-01-25 at 12.25 PM.jpg

The Light Fantastic is the second novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. For a while now, I’ve had this novel sitting on my bookshelf, gathering dust. I’ve heard, as many of you probably have, that it doesn’t measure up to the rest of the Discworld. That Sir Terry was still finding his footing and readers should avoid it until they’ve read more.

Having finished the novel I can see where these people are coming from. If I were to measure The Light Fantastic against some of my favourites from the series, it would definitely suffer by comparison. However, I don’t think that should be held against this book. Novels likes Small God’s and Reaper Man are amongst the best and most clever books I’ve read. That this book doesn’t measure up, shouldn’t mean that it should be kept of of your reading list.

I enjoyed this book. There, I said it. You can fight me if you want. I thought the plot was interesting, the character fit together well, and there were enough jokes to keep me grinning like a goof on my lunch breaks at work. Sure it pales in comparison to some of the other Discworld books but I still think it’s a good enough read on it’s own.

There isn’t much more that I have to say about this novel. I agree with many people when they say that it is not where they would recommend people start if they haven’t read any Discworld. There are better books, much better ones really, that would hook a newbie reader into the world of Pratchett. Still, the book doesn’t deserve to be avoided like I did to it. It was a quick, fun read that many would enjoy! So don’t be scared and grab yourself a copy today!

You can follow my reading and writing adventures on twitter @James Bee

and you can pick up my novels on Amazon here

Sign up for my newsletter on the side for updates on my novels as well as other exclusives!    

Good Omens Review (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2017-11-09 at 12.30 PM.jpg

With my first novel coming out and the struggle to get the next one ready, my blog writing has taken a hit. However, I’m coming back strong with one of my favourite books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. For those of you who don’t know this novel was a collaboration between the two authors when they were still in the earlyish days of their careers. Theres an adaptation coming so i figured i better get at it.

My love of Terry Pratchett is well documented, I looked at my Goodreads list for this year and half of it is Pratchett. I’m more lukewarm of Gaiman, some of his books I really like and others don’t grab me as hard.

This novel however, is a masterpiece. That’s really the only way that I can describe it. It’s hilarious, both in the prose and in the plot. The characters are good and there is enough interesting concepts and plot points to keep you interested throughout. Overall it’s just an extremely pleasant and comforting book. It’s like the novel version of chicken noodle soup, for me at least.

However, it’s also extremely thought provoking, with some pretty cool thoughts on humanity and the difference between good and evil. Religion, mainly christianity is skewered and spoofed to within an inch of it’s life. Pratchett and Gaiman bring both of their skills and they created something special.

It’s just one of those books that you know that you’ll always love and is easy to recommend to others, no matter their taste in books. Honestly, I like it so much that I don’t want to write that much about it here. I want people to go into it blind, so they can enjoy it like I did. I cannot recommend this novel enough, so if you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favour and go out and grab a copy! Do it now!

You can follow me on twitter @jameslikesbooks

and you can buy my novels on amazon here

The Count of Monte Cristo (No Spoilers)

 

Photo on 2017-09-22 at 11.46 AM.jpg

This week’s book is The count of Monte Cristo. This might by my favourite book of all time. One of those rare stories that is stunning in its scope and execution, almost to perfection. It is a classic for a very good reason.

The book is a powerhouse of plot. It is the quintessential revenge story. It has spawned countless others, though few can hold a candle to the original. Like all good revenge tales, the Count is justified in his actions. More than justified really. No one could see what was done to him and think that they would have not done the same, or worse.

The book is a web of plots and intrigues but the reader never gets too lost in them to follow what is happening. And when the reveals happen they are breathtaking. The novel is at times very challenging but the engagement than Dumas manages to attain, keeps the reader hooked at all times.

The Count as a character has an ocean of depth. We get to see him changed from a hopeful young man to the formidable Count that he becomes. Dumas only allows you to catch glimpses of what is going on inside of his head, just enough to smell what it is that he’s cooking. Extremely complicated and nuanced, at times a walking talking contradiction. He is driven by hate, love, compassion, and vengeance all at once. In his essence, he is a man consumed.

I don’t want to get too deep into the nuts and bolts as to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it. Even though it came out in 1845! Though this is very interesting as is it gives a very authentic snapshot into the time.

Overall the book is amazing. Cover to cover it reads quickly and will blow your mind as it does mind every time I pick it up. I cannot recommend this book enough. The Count of Monte Cristo is a must read for anyone who loves plot, engaging characters, and enough intrigue to drown in.

 

Prince of Thorns Review (No Spoilers)

Photo on 2017-09-01 at 11.58 AM.jpg

This week’s book is Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. This was a reread for me. Mark Lawrence is one of my favourite authors, and this was the book that hooked me on his writing. I remember hearing all the hype about PoT and being blown away when I finally got my hands on a copy.

Fantasy, and largely all fiction, is about making something that has already been done seem new and fresh. Broken Empire trilogy does this marvellously. It takes place is a Post apocalypse fantasy world. In this world there are numerous warring empires vying for the one throne. This is nothing new, and yet Lawrence pulls both off extremely well.

Yet Jorg as a character is where i fell in love with the book. Simply put he’s a jerk. He’s violent, kills and maims without remorse. Yet you find yourself rooting for him. The reader makes excuses for his actions and doesn’t hold him up to the same standard as other protagonists. He’s not a hero. but he’s my hero.

He’s like a forest fire that burns away deadwood. You wouldn’t want to come in contact with it but it’s good for the world in the long run.

Lawrence’s prose is very solid, engaging and at many times poetic. The book is a quick read, especially by fantasy standards, around 300 pages. The plot races ahead, easy to follow and extremely engaging.

I would recommend it to anyone that likes dark fantasy. There is a large amount of violence and other disturbing content, which may put some people off but if you can get through that then you are in for a seriously good read.

You can follow me on twitter at  JamesBee