Books, JJ Reads, the memo pad

Memo Pad: Book Reviews April (#1)

This is a bit of a weird Memo Pad. I read a lot of books this month (and last month because technically I read Matilda at the end of last month) and if I put all of the reviews in one post then this will be ridiculously long. Also, and more importantly, I went on holiday this month and only got back on the 28th which means I haven’t had time to put my reviews for the books I’ve read while away on holiday in this post. So, all that means is that, only the reviews of books I read before leaving are in this post plus a separate list of the books I’ve managed to read on holiday with my rating of them. I’m going to do another post with their actual reviews next week some time.

mp april2017

Read: 4 + 5                                     Bought: 2        DNF:1


Matilda by Roald Dahl *****

Hmm, I’m actually not sure why I’ve given this a two star. I’m trying to think of something I liked about it but honestly the only thing I can think of is: I loved the musical….

Now, before people jump on me, I NEVER get on with ‘classics’. I think it’s the writing style. I just don’t enjoy reading it, it feels a bit too distant for me. I found it very interesting how, coming from watching the film and musical first, I have good memories of Matilda as a main character but reading this, and I’m certain it’s because of the writing style, she came across to me like a really nasty little child. I think if we were in her head and felt her pain, rather than having the story narrated to us, I would have felt for her more and her actions would have felt more justified and vindicated. I guess this is why they say show don’t tell. I had absolutely no affinity with her.

I also felt that there is, especially in the first part of a book, the suggestion that people who read are somehow better and superior than those who don’t. Whether because they can’t or because they chose not to which I don’t agree with.


The Jewel by Amy Ewing *****

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity – until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation.

An offer for this book arrived in my inbox from bookbub and it was actually exactly the kind of book that I felt like reading in that moment so I bought it. Now I don’t normally like reading dystopian books, the ones I’ve read start to feel rather generic after a time. Teenage girl gets given an opportunity that she’d rather not have and through this gets put in a new situation where her world grows that offers opportunities to change things. That’s one way of describing this book but its also possible to take that and use it for at least a dozen other popular dystopians. (hunger games, wool, 100, divergent, the selection, the testing…)

And this one was VERY generic but I was expecting that, I just wanted a fun, exciting three star read to devour on a crappy day but whoa was there a dose of massive instalove of the worst kind shoe-horned into this book.

I also want to point out that the world building wasn’t necessarily done very well. I mean the world is based around concentric circles, the centre one being the richest. The middle ring is the factory sector and we’re told that the smoke is so thick it darkens the sky…. But then we are into the farming sector and that smog… Disappears? Yeah, world building there is a bit dodge.


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir *****

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice. For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands of Scholars, all in the name of power. When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death. But once Laia and Elias meet, they find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire.

This was a good book. I enjoyed it a lot…. I honestly don’t have anything else to say about it though? I’m not sure why. It was a solidly built world and interesting plot. There was an absolutely heartbreaking moment in it that seriously brought the tears out but weirdly I came away from this feeling pretty indifferent. There wasn’t anything particular about it? It was just another book that filled some time. Four stars means I definitely enjoyed reading it but I just think it was pretty forgettable once I’d finished it. I think it was the characters, I’m a very character based reader and I didn’t think either of the main characters had anything that was particularly unique about them, I mean, I don’t want a special snowflake character but there wasn’t anything to make them stand out in my mind from the hundreds of other books I’ve read.


The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta *****

In the City of Brea, thieves and sorceresses do not mix.
When Curtis Vance—professional thief—stumbles into a sorceress’s trap, he’d prefer to kill her than help her. Now bound to the insane sorceress, his only escape (and chance to turn a profit) is to find the long forgotten Dragon Eye gem. Little does Vance know, the Dragon Eye holds more than the key to Vance’s freedom. The Eye could awaken a devastating power—a worldkiller bent on destruction, and Vance is all that stands in its way.

3.5 stars rounded up for the interesting back story.
I like thieves. A lot. So when I saw someone mention this book on a blog I immediately went to look it up and found it sitting prettily on netgalley just waiting for me to click it. I wasn’t planning on reading any books from netgalley this month because of my holiday but I couldn’t resist.
The thief in this book is a fella by the name of Curtis Vance who gets suckered into a job against his will and involved in things much deeper than he had planned. Cue myths, magic, dragons and a certain sorceress mixing things up.
I found Vance’s backstory refreshingly different, rather than tragic events happening to him as a child, as is so common in this genre, he was the one that caused horrible things to happen. I haven’t seen that before and it made this book stand out to me. That said, I felt like there was something missing in the telling that stopped me from loving Vance. I didn’t quite get to know him enough for him to be a lovable rogue and the plot was a little bit too easily solved in the end. I also didn’t think the romance angle made that much sense, there wasn’t enough shown between them to warrant what happened. But then I don’t like romance much so maybe others won’t feel the same

Holiday Reads:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater  *****

The Captive Prince by CS Pacat  *****

Wilful Machines by Tim Floreen   *****

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab *****

The Untimely Deaths of Alex by Wayfarer by MG Buehrlen *****


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke 

Books Bought:

I want to say I was very good this month and only bought two books but I mean really that’s only becuase I went on a book buying spree at the end of last month so didn’t need to. But anyway, here are the two I bought, both were on offer for 99p.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing & We were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Goodreads

4 thoughts on “Memo Pad: Book Reviews April (#1)”

  1. I remember loving Matilda growing up. I read it in French though, so perhaps some of the writing style that made you dislike Matilda was lost in the translation? I’ve picked up the Selection, a while back (I remembered you writing about it) but have yet to find the time to start it yet. I really need more than 24 hours in one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the movie growing up so maybe if I had read the book when I was young I might have liked it then. Tastes change after all.
      Haha. Yes we need extra reading hours.

      Liked by 1 person

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