Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan DennardTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 5th January 2016
Publisher: Tor
Source: Bought, Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Do you ever read a book that you’re SO. EXCITED. for and then come out of it wondering what the hell the bookternet is thinking by hyping it up? That’s how I feel about Truthwitch. You can watch my Witchlands vlog below if you’re interested!

I remember when Truthwitch was coming out and there was this whole big campaign alongside Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I’m pretty sure it was one of the biggest book marketing campaigns I had seen, and it seemed as though everyone was talking about the book. I was sad I’d missed out by not getting in on the hype early on, and since then I’d kept putting off reading Truthwitch because I wasn’t ready to dive into a new and addictive series.

I really shouldn’t have bothered, though, because Truthwitch turned out to be such a disappointment. I don’t think it was soley because I’d hyped it up in my head, as it seems as though this book series has a massive online fanbase. I don’t really understand why.

My main issue with Truthwitch is that I don’t care about any of the characters, and the reason for that is that they’re badly written. We follow the POVs of four characters in the first book, all of which sound exactly the same. I struggled to differentiate between them, and I had kept forgetting whose head I was supposed to be in in the middle of chapters.

I don’t think Truthwitch is very well written. It lands you straight into the world and does a bunch of info-dumping in the first half of the book, not giving you any time to settle in or get to know the characters. And then in the second half of the book you’re expected to care about these characters and empathise with what they’re going through, even though the author spent all her time in the first half info-dumping and distracting you from getting to know them.

It didn’t make much sense to me.

In addition, it was clear to me that the author wanted this to be a fast paced and action packed story. And it was. To such an extent that the characters were all over the place. They were rushing from one scene to the next, from one location to another, and I had absolutely no time to settle down and enjoy the story because there was always another thing going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy fast paced plots. Slow plots can bore me. But if a plot is fast paced, the rest of the book has to find some sort of balance. I have to care about the characters who are running around, and I have to understand the world building and why they’re running.

I wasn’t a fan of Truthwitch, and I’m so disappointed that I hyped it up and waited so long to read it. I tried to read the sequel, but I ended up DNF-ing Windwitch and I won’t be continuing with the series, unfortunately.

Book Review: I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

Book Review: I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz RishiI Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
Genre: Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 22nd October 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from I Hope You Get This Message, but it was probably something different to what I got. I think what I wanted from this book was something heart warming that takes place during the end of the world, and instead the characters all leave their families once they learn what is happening.

I Hope You Get This Message jumps around three points of view, and I only really found one of them interesting. I think two of the POVs could have been combined to make the book drag less. It’s a big book, and there wasn’t enough going on to justify that high of a page count.

I really enjoyed the point of view of the third character, who didn’t leave his mother when she needed him. He’s also gay, and went on a couple of dates with another guy, so I appreciated that representation! He was honestly the only interesting part of the whole book, as I feel like his story was the most fleshed out and I actually cared about what he was going through.

I really feel like this book should have either been more action-packed or more heartfelt (or both!) considering it’s covering the run up to the apocalypse and the planet potentially being wiped out. I wouldn’t recommend picking this one up if you’re looking for an interesting sci-fi novel, unfortunately!

Book Review: Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Book Review: Survivor Song by Paul TremblaySurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 7th July 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government's emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola "Rams" Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie's husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie's only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 

As Paul Tremblay books go, this one Survivor Song isn’t my favourite. It’s another one of those books that left me wondering what the point of it was. Survivor Song is a story about two women called Rams and Natalie who are trying to get to a medical clinic during a mutated rabies outbreak. Sounds fun, right?

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Book Review: Malorie by Josh Malerman

Book Review: Malorie by Josh MalermanMalorie Release Date: 21st July 2020
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

In the thrilling sequel to Bird Box, the inspiration for the record-breaking Netflix film that starred Sandra Bullock and “absolutely riveted” Stephen King, New York Times bestselling author Josh Malerman brings unseen horrors to life.

The film adaptation of Malerman’s first novel, Bird Box, was watched by over forty-five million Netflix accounts in the first week, the best first seven days ever for a film on the platform. Countless more came to know the story through social media. The image of Sandra Bullock’s character, Malorie, blindfolded—as she’s led through a terrifying near-future apocalypse by the trained ears of her children—has become synonymous with a new generation of horror.

Now from the mind of a true master of suspense comes the next chapter in the riveting tale. This time, Malorie is front and center, and she will confront the dangers of her world head-on.

I read Bird Box before the Netflix movie came out and it succeeded in utterly disturbing me. I had no idea Josh Malerman was going to come out with a follow up, and so when I saw Malorie on NetGalley I just had to get my hands on it to review it!

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Book Review: The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Book Review: The Shadow Friend by Alex NorthThe Shadow Friend by Alex North
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 9th July 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

If it had happened to you, you would have run away too.

Twenty-five years ago, Paul's friend Charlie Crabtree brutally killed their classmate - and then vanished without a trace.

Paul's never forgiven himself for his part in what happened. He's never gone back home.

Until his elderly mother has a fall. It's finally time to stop running.

It's not long before things start to go wrong. His mother claims there's someone in the house. Paul realises someone is following him. And, in a town many miles away, a copycat killer has struck.

Which makes him wonder - what really happened to Charlie the day of the murder?

And can anyone stop it happening again?

The Shadow Friend is a slower paced thriller/mystery that managed to keep my attention thanks to the creepy atmosphere. I’d read The Whisper Man by Alex North already, but I don’t think I really got a feel for his writing style until I read The Shadow Friend.

I think Alex North’s strength is his ability to craft such a chilling atmosphere. He perfectly cultivates the creepy local legends, the disturbing teenagers, and the dark and ominous woods in this story and so when it all comes together you’re left with chills. I’ve now realised that this is my favourite thing about his books.

I spoke in my Booktube review of The Shadow Friend that I come from a small town with lots of local legends, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m able to connect with Alex North’s books so much. He perfectly incorporates local legends to his books, and turns them into something disturbing, and yet also very realistic.

The characters are what I would say are Alex North’s weakest point when it comes to writing. His characters are never very memorable, and I never get attached to them. This is often the case with thrillers for me, but it was particularly stand out here as I was loving the rest of the story apart from the characters.

I was expecting more on Charlie Crabtree, to be honest, and less on Paul and his love life. It’s fine as it is, but I would have liked to see more of Crabtree and his creepiness, and also more on Paul’s relationship with his mother if the focus had to be on him so much.

The Shadow Friend is certainly a slower paced thriller, but it’s one that I really enjoyed, and I can’t wait to see what Alex North comes out with in the future. His books are great for Halloween if you want a spine tingling mystery to keep you up!