Two Weeks Worth of Books

Books I Read

Arsenic for Tea

Arsenic for Tea by Robbin Stevens

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill—and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem—and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth… no matter the consequences.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was relieved to hear that not all of the books would take place in one school – how many deaths can it have before getting shut down? The way that wealth and racism were explored in this story were quite interesting and provided a lot of interesting things that could be used to teach children.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Carve the Mark

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over their shared planet. When Akos and his brother are kidnapped by the ruling Noavek family, Akos is forced to serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear. Cyra is known for her deadly power of transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. But as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.

When Akos and Cyra are caught in the middle of a raging rebellion, everything they’ve been led to believe about their world and themselves must be called into question. But fighting for what’s right might mean betraying their countries, their families, and each other.

When the time comes, will they choose loyalty or love?

I quite enjoyed this book and thought that it was well written. A very different approach to her previous works, this story felt a little bit more grown up. I did however find that it was a bit predictable, and I was easily able to guess some of the plot twists. I enjoyed the sci-fi fantasy blend, but thought that the characters could be a little bit flat, but the ideas explored were interesting.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Steampunk Bible

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer

Steampunk—a grafting of Victorian aesthetic and punk rock attitude onto various forms of science-fiction culture—is a phenomenon that has come to influence film, literature, art, music, fashion, and more. The Steampunk Bible is the first compendium about the movement, tracing its roots in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells through its most recent expression in movies such as Sherlock Holmes. Its adherents celebrate the inventor as an artist and hero, re-envisioning and crafting retro technologies including antiquated airships and robots. A burgeoning DIY community has brought a distinctive Victorian-fantasy style to their crafts and art. Steampunk evokes a sense of adventure and discovery, and embraces extinct technologies as a way of talking about the future. This ultimate manual will appeal to aficionados and novices alike as author Jeff VanderMeer takes the reader on a wild ride through the clockwork corridors of Steampunk history.

An interesting exploration of steampunk culture and history.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

First Class Murder

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are taking a holiday on the famous Orient Express. From the moment the girls step aboard, it’s clear that everyone in the first-class carriages has something to hide.

Then there is a scream from one of the cabins, and a wealthy heiress is found dead, But the killer has vanished – as if into thin air …

Daisy and Hazel are faced with their first locked-room mystery – and with competition from several other sleuths, who are just as determined to crack the case.

A brilliant book with homage to Agatha Christie. While this book is clearly inspired by Murder on the Orient Express but since it is set a year after the book was published and many of the characters have read it, it can been forgiven.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights

Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights by Helen Lewis

Feminism’s success is down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women, who fought each other as well as fighting for equal rights. Helen Lewis argues that too many of these pioneers have been whitewashed or forgotten in our modern search for feel-good, inspirational heroines. It’s time to reclaim the history of feminism as a history of difficult women.

In this book, you’ll meet the working-class suffragettes who advocated bombings and arson; the princess who discovered why so many women were having bad sex; the pioneer of the refuge movement who became a men’s rights activist; the ‘striker in a sari’ who terrified Margaret Thatcher; the wronged Victorian wife who definitely wasn’t sleeping with the prime minister; and the lesbian politician who outraged the country. Taking the story up to the present with the twenty-first-century campaign for abortion services, Helen Lewis reveals the unvarnished – and unfinished – history of women’s rights.

Drawing on archival research and interviews, Difficult Women is a funny, fearless and sometimes shocking narrative history, which shows why the feminist movement has succeeded – and what it should do next. The battle is difficult, and we must be difficult too.

I received this book as a Net Galley ARC and will do a blog post review soon.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Jolly Foul Play

Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens

The fantastic new mystery from the author of Murder Most Unladylike.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have returned to Deepdean for a new school term, but nothing is the same. There’s a new Head Girl, Elizabeth Hurst, and a team of Prefects – and these bullying Big Girls are certainly not good eggs.

Then, after the fireworks display on Bonfire Night, Elizabeth is found – murdered.

Many girls at Deepdean had reason to hate Elizabeth, but who might have committed such foul play? Could the murder be linked to the secrets and scandals, scribbled on scraps of paper, that are suddenly appearing around the school? And with their own friendship falling to pieces, how will Daisy and Hazel solve this mystery? 

I love this series and was pleased to see us return to Deepdean. Finally we get the deeper (though still shallow and naive but no less affirming for questioning readers) exploration of same-sex attraction that I hoped for in book one.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Fates Divide

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable.

Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead—reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever.

As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.

I didn’t like this book as much as the first, as many of the things that I thought would happen did, but it did contain a WLW romance! 🌈

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Red Queen

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved how the POV changed from the Lady of the Rivers so that this time you are fighting for the opposite side. It added more dimension to the stories and made me realise just how personal these grand events were to the people in them. It didn’t hurt that a portion of the book was set near my home town either.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mistletoe and Murder

Mistletoe and Murder by Robbin Stevens

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms – but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.

Three nights before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The End and Other Beginnings

The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth

A collection of short stories which take place in future worlds that feature advanced technology.

I thoroughly enjoyed this stories and enjoyed the Asexual representation, but it did take me a while to realise that the sixth story was also set in the Carve the Mark universe.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Spoonful of Murder

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

When Hazel Wong’s beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel’s family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong.

But when they arrive they discover something they didn’t expect: there’s a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn’t just the detective. She’s been framed for murder!

The girls must work together like never before, confronting dangerous gangs, mysterious suspects and sinister private detectives to solve the murder and clear Hazel’s name – before it’s too late . . .

I quite enjoyed this story and the way it explored race and culture shock but in a way that made it more relatable to white people. The role reversal helped add more weight to the anti-racism and cultural difference messages that the author has been sending.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Chosen Ones

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down the Dark One, an impossibly powerful entity wreaking havoc across North America. The Chosen Ones, as the teens were known, gave everything they had to defeat him.

After his defeat, the world went back to normal…for everyone but them. After all, what do you do when you’re the most famous people on Earth, your only education was in magical destruction, and your purpose in life is now fulfilled?

Of the five, Sloane has had the hardest time adjusting. Everyone else blames the PTSD – and her huge attitude problem – but really, she’s hiding secrets from everyone…secrets that keep her tied to the past and alienate her from the only four people in the world who understand her.

On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One’s ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold – bigger than the world itself.

And this time, fighting back might take more than Sloane has to give.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The set up and premise were perfect. It feels like a book written for people who were fans of Divergent and YA dystopia in its heyday and have since grown up. Being the target audience, I couldn’t fail to enjoy the book, though i did find the resolution of the set up disappointing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kingdom of Souls

Kingdom of Souls: The Last Witchdoctor by Rena Barron

 A girl with no gifts must bargain for the power to fight her own mother’s dark schemes—even if the price is her life.

Heir to two lines of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. Yet she fails at bone magic, fails to call upon her ancestors, and fails to live up to her family’s legacy. Under the disapproving eye of her mother, the Kingdom’s most powerful priestess and seer, she fears she may never be good enough.

But when the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, Arrah is desperate enough to turn to a forbidden, dangerous ritual. If she has no magic of her own, she’ll have to buy it—by trading away years of her own life.

Arrah’s borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal, and on its heels, a rising tide of darkness that threatens to consume her and all those she loves. She must race to unravel a twisted and deadly scheme… before the fight costs more than she can afford.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was both sad that it took me so long to read it and glad that I waited until the sequel came out. The world was interesting and the magic systems were intriguing to me as someone who is not familiar with these traditions. The plot and conflicts were relatable though, and I am very excited to read the sequel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Poirot Investigates

Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie

The very first collection of superb short stories featuring Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings…

First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond… then came the ‘suicide’ that was murder… the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat… a suspicious death in a locked gun-room… a million dollar bond robbery… the curse of a pharaoh’s tomb… a jewel robbery by the sea… the abduction of a Prime Minister… the disappearance of a banker… a phone call from a dying man… and, finally, the mystery of the missing will.

What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Bunker Diary

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

I can’t believe I fell for it.
It was still dark when I woke up this morning.
As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.
A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.
There are six little rooms along the main corridor.
There are no windows. No doors. The elevator is the only way in or out.
What’s he going to do to me?
What am I going to do?

People are really quite simple, and they have simple needs. Food, water, light, space, privacy. Maybe a small measure of dignity. A bit of freedom. What happens when someone simply takes all that away?

I never usually want to throw a book across the room. but I did with this one. The setup is simple and the characters are gripping. I finished this book with much swearing (mainly at my friend who gave it to me for my birthday) and restraint from destroying the book as much as it destroyed me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I’m Currently Reading

Heroes

Heroes by Stephen Fry

There are Heroes – and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta – who was raised by bears – outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of – at our worst and our very best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s