#WWW Wednesday – 28 September, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

lifesassistanceagencycoverI finished three things this week. The first was The Life Assistance Agency by Thomas Hocknell. Sadly this ended up dragging a lot. It got better in the last 10-15%, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the earlier stuff. 😦 I also finished Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, which I enjoyed a lot more, in spite of the constant info-dumps. It was an entertaining story but it was definitely one where the author clearly wanted to convey a “message” (a worthwhile one, but it was still heavy-handed). I also read The Pickpocket by Celine Jeanjean, which is a prequel novella set in her Viper and the Urchin steampunk universe. It was adorable and I want to give tiny Rory all the hugs.

Little Brother review is here, while the Life Assistance Agency review is here. littlebrothercover

It was also the 75th book I’ve read this year, so I’ve completed my GoodReads challenge. 75 was my total for last year, and that included some Patrick Ness short stories and things that only took a few minutes, so I’m rather proud to have hit this this time with so much time still to spare.

What are you currently reading?

therookcoverI’ve finally returned to The Rook by Daniel O’Malley for the moment. I didn’t want to start anything new before heading off on holidays. I was only going to take The Name of the Wind with me, but because I’m pedantic, I don’t want to actually start it until I’m aboard the ship on Saturday, so the Rook is my reserve reading (trust me to choose two of the chunkiest books in my possession).

illuminationcoverI also started the audio book of Illumination by Karen Brooks. This is the third Curse of the Bond Riders book. I said I wasn’t going to listen to the audio book because it’s even longer than the second one and there were parts of that I wished I could skim… but I couldn’t find any other audio books that interested me right now and this was there and so far it’s okay. I may still finish it in print form.

What do you think you’ll read next?

nameofthewindcoverAs I said last week, I’ll be reading The Name of the Wind on my cruise. It did occur to me that my regular reading speed is about 100 pages an hour, give or take a bit, and that I could actually get through it a lot faster than expected, especially with the three days at sea at the end, so it’s probably good I’ll have The Rook in reserve, too.

Let me know if you’ve any thoughts on any of these! 🙂

See you all later!

~ Emily

“Every line has a new start.” // Review of “The Life Assistance Agency” by Thomas Hocknell

Title: The Life Assistance Agency
Author: Thomas Hocknell
Genre: Mystery/fantasy
Date Read: 16/09/2016 – 23/09/2016
Rating: ★★

Review:

Ah man. I am going to have to live with this being another case of really enjoying the author’s blogs and Twitter, but the published work just not doing it for me. It had its moments, but I ended up having to really trudge through the majority.

Ben Furguson-Cripps is a struggling writer who gets caught up in a friend’s new venture, the Life Assistance Agency, which vaguely seeks to assist people in whichever way possible. When their first client brings them a missing persons case, they end up a trek around Europe, following in the footsteps of Dr John Dee and Edward Kelley, two Elizabethan occultists who sought to communicate with angels, and Ben finds his cynicism regarding all forms of magic and the supernatural severely challenged.

My first issue with this book was that I really struggled to relate to Ben in any meaningful way. He had a fairly standard backstory (drunk mother, father who ran out on them…) and was, well… this sounds mean, but he was kind of a loser, and I didn’t really sympathise with his struggles. The other characters also didn’t really ellicit any kind of emotional response from me. It was also quite a male-dominated story, which can be okay, but the few female characters that were there didn’t have much agency. Jane Dee, excerpts from whose diary are peppered throughout the book, went from being really bothered about Edward Kelley’s obvious leering and lusting after her  to being attracted to him. I know that does happen, but Kelley was set up as really gross, and so her change of heart bugged me.

The other main issue was the pacing. The mystery isn’t very compelling, and really relies on the reader getting to the point where it all comes together at the end, because the actions of some characters don’t make sense until you finally find out their motivation at that point. The aforementioned diary excerpts really slowed the plot down, too, and there was a lot of traveling around and “Oh no, we’re being followed” without very much else going on to hold my interest. The last 10-15% did improve quite a bit, but by then I had already been skimming for a fair while and was ready to be finished.

This does have the makings of a fun story and I think with some work it could have got there. Unfortunately, I think maybe this one went to print a little too early, and really suffers for it.


(Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)

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#WWW Wednesday – 21 September, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

(I have to apologise for being fairly useless at returning comments and visiting other blogs last week. I’ll do better this week! :D)

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

dragoninthegardencoverI finished The Dragon in the Garden by Erika Gardner, and it managed to not become a complete mess! I enjoyed it in and of itself, but I don’t feel compelled to read the sequel whenever it comes out. I posted my review here, along with my review of The Mysterious Adventures of Becca Carlisle by Cate Morgan, which also went up this week.

What are you currently reading?

lifesassistanceagencycoverI started reading The Life Assistance Agency by Thomas Hocknell. This is the one I requested on NetGalley last week, and since it has just been released, I thought I should try to get it reviewed soonest. I’m also listening to Little Brother by Cory Doctorow on audio. I’m enjoying them both, though in both cases I am finding the lead characters are both really standard male characters (one’s that goofball, kind of loser stereotype and the other is a “hot-blooded” 17-year-old) and there aren’t very many women around in either one. The stories are both good, though, so I’m trying to let that slide.

What do you think you’ll read next?

nameofthewindcoverOn October 1, I am going on a cruise for a week and I plan on taking The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss with me. I am not taking any devices other than my phone (for camera purposes, I’m not getting international roaming), but this should keep me going for eight days. Depending how quickly I finish the other stuff, I might read The Ill-Kept Oath by C. C. Aune before then.

Let me know if you’ve any thoughts on any of these! 🙂

See you all later!

~ Emily