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Sarah

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The full force of MET is a magical thing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-11-18

The Folly is finally a real police unit with a crack-team core and analysts crunching the data - but even as the system grinds the bad guys down, it's still up to Peter Grant to chase the criminals down. (Whilst adding some very interesting tit-bits on the surrounding London architecture.)

These novels are realistic without ever being gritty and optimistic in a way that most crime-fiction is not. The magical world is gaining depth and some of the newer characters are coming to the fore. The ensemble cast does mean that a few of my favourite characters didn't get as much 'screen-time' as I'd have liked. The narration is excellent as always and even if a few voice-choices might surprise you, they make sense once you've reached the end.

Ben Aaronovitch's novels are about how data analysis, systemising, and community outreach are the ways to get the bad guys; and the flashy explosions, dangerous escapades, and fantastical brushes with death are merely an added bonus to a jobbing police detective's career. Whilst Aaronovitch has previously balanced the pace-to-character-led-exposition well, this novel is slightly more weighted to the second half than it should have been. Still, it zips along and is a fun read, which is fundamentally what I want out of a novel about a police detective who can do magic and the friends and enemies he has met along the way.

You don't have to have read the comics to get the full enjoyment of this novel but you should have read most of the rest of the series. I've recommended this series to young and old alike, and as long as the person has at least a passing interest in London and doesn't refuse to read anything not set in reality, it has been a winner.*

*As a London-based scientist, who collected books on the hidden rivers of London back in 2008, soaks up local history, and grew up reading Pratchett and Adams, I honestly can't think of any recent novels that I've adored as much as the Rivers of London series. Here's to many more!

Stephen Fry's Classical-Ed (but fun)

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-09-18

Had to take a long break away from Stephen Fry's voice after listening to around 80 hours of Sherlock Holmes, but I'm glad I didn't let this book pass me by.

Listening to it, you really feel like you're getting the advantage of Stephen Fry's Classical education. With the pronunciation part done for you, the book treads the line between letting the stories speak for themselves and adding enough historical context.

Adapted to the adaption. And the World Cup.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-09-18

Full disclaimer, I'm a massive Discworld fan but I know absolutely nothing about football. Even my dad hates football. Until this world cup, I'd never watched football. My family killed the news before it got to the sport. I also grew up in Scotland which never qualified for anything as a far as I remember. When I read the book, (a few days after publication) I didn't know who Maradonna was, so, to be honest, it's my least favourite TP because I didn't get the references.

Now living in England and working in an office in 2018, I've had to learn about football. Watch football in pubs after work. Someone took lunch-time to explain this Maradonna chap, so I thought I'd give this adaption a try, to see if I would like to reread this one. (Incidentally the only TP book I've not read more than 3 times.)

So I enjoyed the simulated crowd noise, and I think the acting helped me get even more of the references than expected. This was like when I re-read Maskerade after seeing Phantom of the Opera (and not being 12 y.o.). It made a lot more sense.

I think you have to go into these adaptions like you're going to see a Discworld play: it's going to get the characters a bit wrong, it's going to miss out your favourite bits, but it's got its own life to it.

"The Thick of It" -on-Magic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-09-18

This book is more "Thick-of-It" -on-magic than "Yes, Minister" or indeed, the real civil service (see Laundry Files by Charles Stross for that one, every department memo included).

Alison, the protagonist, is 19 and just wants to do her best at her new job. She's not given any training, support or direction and although she does have an unusual talent, the author does a good job of presenting her as average. She mirrors the fact that performing well at school and education leaves you completely unprepared for the world of work. (I certainly found work a bit of a shock and I don't *think* anyone I know is dealing with interdimensional beings.)

It keeps a humourous tone throughout and pokes fun at both sides of the 'free speech' v. 'offensive speech' debate that is happening up and down the country, and certainly in the world that Yahtzee Croshaw normally operates (video game reviews.) I think you can read this book wherever your own opinion falls.

Some of the characters aren't as fleshed out as I'd like and one characterisation, in particular, I just found confusing. However, I think the book is paced well and its very difficult to have this many characters and keep up the pace. Something about the end annoys me intensely but its a spoiler, so I'll just fume silently.

You have to be able to stand Yahtzee Croshaw's voice, so give the sample a try before you buy.

If you like: 'Laundry Files' by Charles Stross, Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove, '14' or 'Fold' by Peter Clines, 'London Falling' by Paul Cornell, you could enjoy this too.

A perfectly enjoyable addition to the genre, that zips along with some laugh out loud moments.

Aberdeen to a very professional standard

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-18

From the woes of the Western Profferial Route, the identikit new box-like houses in Kingswells, and the tenement blocks in Tillydrone, the city comes alive as its own character. There's certainly a lot in this book if you're familiar with the local politics at the moment: especially if you've left and are feeling a little homesick.

It's as gruesome as the rest of the series, though not quite as bad as the book that gave Logan vegetarianism. This time Logan is off to try and catch the worst of the worst, even if they're his colleagues.

I love the little meta-comments that have started to slip in lately (who won the prize to get featured in this book I wonder?) I'm also invested in the adventures of Logan and his little family and his adventurous police career.

Not my favourite but in the top 5. I can't wait to book 12!

Teenage Dreams are so Loki

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-06-18

I loved Gospel of Loki but this is a slightly different book. It’s more like her rune marks/runelight series it concerns the lives of teenagers. This may put off people who enjoyed Gospel for its retelling of the Myths alone but I don’t think it should!

It is a well written tale, with sharp descriptors and my favourite flawed narrator at the helm.

There’s also a telling of being a teenage girl that rings far truer than any young adult novel I’ve read.

Perfect for fans of Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series and TP/NG’s Good Omens.


PS does anyone know if we’re going to get a third runemarks book?

1 person found this helpful

Childhood favourite that still thrills

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-05-16

My partner recommended this series because he adored it as a child, and I loved it! Wicked, hilarious, and a little educational it really should be part of everyone's childhood or adult-hood.

Absolutely excellent to do the washing up to - which is a compliment of the highest regard. Honest.

Don't use the Z-Word (Jessica Jones inspired?)

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-05-16

*Not one for plugging into the speakers whilst doing the dishes (NSFW)*

Jesse feels just like a real person, despite the fact that she's technically a Zombie but you shouldn't use the Z-word unless you're one too and you're trying to reclaim it. She's truly funny, knows the right amount of information to make the plot twist and turn, and her cast of supporting characters are varied and interesting too. I was concerned about the presence of a love-triangle (even if it is a bisexual love-triangle). However, it is different from the 'young-adult love-triangle' trope as these characters seem like they are largely just getting on with things, like I've witnessed with love-triangles in real-life.

It's set in Nashville and the town feels as part of the novel as the characters. Give the first book a chance passed the first few awkward descriptions - the author gets better at integrating new characters and there is a noticeable step up in quality between books 1 and 2.

Saying that the descriptions of sex-crimes (mainly in book 2) are horrifying... I mean they are describing horrifying crimes so they shouldn't be anything else, but I decided to fast forward through the end of those minutes. I don't think I missed anything plot-wise (if you decide to do this too). I already had boundless sympathy for Jesse's vaguely described childhood horrors, without re-living them with her. The vivid descriptions of institutionalized torture are also in this category.

This is not a light-novel despite zipping through the plot in pacy and entertaining way. If anything, although I am invested in the story, I am holding back from the next novel in the series because it's hard-work in these parts. Still I think more novels should be about people like Jesse and I think the satirical elements don't seem too forced.

Good for fans of Jessica Jones (Marvel); similarly adult themes, but set in a vibrantly new world with a wildly different protagonist even if they do share a name!

1 person found this helpful

Great context for my trip round Pompeii

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-05-16

I bought this just before I went to Pompeii and it provided great context for my visit - even if I definitely couldn't find everything mentioned! (I was there for only 6 hours and a lot of Pompeii is closed for restorations.)

It was great to have an idea when the audioguide is disputed by academics and adds colour to what is an impressive historical site!

2 people found this helpful

Darker, Colder, more conflicted - very Aberdeen.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-01-16

Logan and DCI Steel are back to stop Aberdeenshire's next big crime wave. Logan's loyalty to his family, his conscience, and the law is truly tested whilst the snow falls, butties are eaten and smelly criminals are apprehended - all a cold February in Banff. This novel is lighter on gore than some of the previous ones, but heavier on the stuff that makes you really feel for the characters: it's quite dark. The pacing is excellent, and Steve Worsley's Doric is top-notch as always, ye ken.

It's refreshing read a series that shows the mental toll that being at the centre of all the horror, pain, and compromise of Logan's life have had on his character. Often by this stage in a long-running series the main character has built a wall of cynicism around himself, just to survive being the protagonist, that his development is either paused or re-set each novel. Stuart Macbride avoids making Logan a mental superman, rather than just a character that's luckier than most. Consequently it is psychologically darker than his previous novels - and since you should probably not start with book ten (there are a few in-jokes that have built up as the series has gone on) you'll know that it's really rather dark.

Stuart Macbride even lampshades Logan's protagonist nature by pointing out that he's still a DS, with his feet on the ground, despite having been at the centre of every single high-profile crime in Aberdeen. I'm glad that Macbride has managed to keep Logan's career 'realistic' without having to read about organisational management and policy in Police Scotland - and I love where the next book is potentially headed. Ther humour that stems from the real front-line of policing keeps the tone readable.

Through the series of novels, Macbride has shown that real terror stems not only from the psychopath with the knife as with his first novel, but also from facing yourself in the mirror after the consequences of your own compromises have exposed your loved ones to suffering. It's definitely a cold, dark day for our Logan McCrae.

13 people found this helpful