Wednesday 28 November 2018

Book Review: The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

Yeah, that Unicorn thing was a mess.

After their recent escapades, Lockwood & Co deserve a well-earned naturally they decide to break into the country's most heavily-guarded crypt.

What they discover will change everything.

So begins a race to uncover the truth behind 'the Problem' 
-igniting an epic battle against the Fittes agency. A battle that will force the team to journey to the Other Side, and pit them against the most terrifying enemy they have ever faced.

Not everyone will make it out alive...

This is the fifth and last book in the Lockwood & Co series. If you're reading the review, I presumed you've read the four other books or don't care if you're spoiled for those books, I am going to spoil past books in this review. I have reviews of all books on here so check them out instead if that's not here for that.

This book takes place five months after the last book, starts with them breaking and entering. Kipps is just here now.

This case of escapist, turned soul sucking ghost was cool. I liked her, it of course gave room for girl hate because she was hot. "Can't find the quote. I must rage without documenting it. Now I can't like Holly either.

The body shaming continues in general. There are constant comments about George's body. Basically George is fat and disgusting, that what we are repeatedly told. We also have Holly being shamed for liking healthy foods. This is just a continued thing, the only "growth" is now Holly will eat donuts if pressured. Banter is definitely a thing, but they're always focused on George. They don't even mock Kipps as much in this book, with him having more page time. Basically, it's mixed messages and it's gets hella stale after 2500 pages of it. Well, 500 pages were definitely enough for it to be stale. The fat shaming continues with Mr Tufnell, this book's customer. Every single customer in this series was terrible if they were for the main case, maybe except for the first one when they burnt down their house. Mr Tufnell is fat and eats all the cake.

There is part in this book where the time gets messed up, so that Lucy can feel sad about her non-existent sisters: "My sister Mary gave me the money to make one go once...'
 'Didn't know you had a sister, the skull said.
'I've got six.' I didn't mention that I hadn't seen any of them for years; that only Mary still wrote to me from the north of England. I tried to ignore the dull pang that accompanied the thought."
Time for A maths game of timelines: The second book is seven months after the first.
I don't think the third book has stated amount of months but it's probably three months, the second book takes place in summer and we at the start of the Black Winter so it could be shorter or longer, but it's between two and four months so let's just with three.  Meaning that the Lucy is 10 months into her time at Lockwood & Co. It's doesn't really matter, but what does matter is this is the book where Holly is hired while Lucy is visiting family.

The fourth book four months after the third, so with the five being five months meaning that Lucy last saw at least some of her sisters nine months ago so not even a single year ago. I guess as we never saw anything from that visit, but I'm certain she mentions her strain relation with her siblings then. There are other thing we count too.

Lucy is fourteen at the start of the series. Lockwood and George are like fifteen. So are like fifteen and sixteen unless years are randomly skipped in the second books, making Holly two years older being 18 years old when she is introduced. Kipps is in his twenties at the start of the series and is  stated to be 22 in this book, meaning that two years is all the time that these books can take place in, meaning that Lucy has has not even lived years years without her sisters. Yes, she could be exaggerating, but she would be exaggerating if she said she hadn't seen any of them in year. Lucy doesn't even mention her sister in the last book or the second, they literally only show up for background and plot, and yet Stroud can't even tract that. Lucy doesn't give care about her sisters. She doesn't even think about them when Lockwood tells her about his dead sister. Anyway, this is just a very long way of saying this bullshit. Obviously, there is also the time the books themselves take place (though the seven months of the first might be Lucy joint date). Let's give two months for the books themselves before the fifth book for case time, and we have twenty-one months a.k.a. a year and nine months. Maybe you want to add another month to that case time, but it's still not even twos years.

This is just a very long way of saying that you have to set up relationships, maybe even name her sisters or family. Or just stick to her being closed to the only named sister she has. I don't own the books, so I'm reliant on my memory and reviews, with some internet checking for this timeline. It's probably best because that was probably too much effect for this bit already.

So now Holly Munro who has darker skin than every other character (it's never more specific, she has smooth hair so it could mean a lot of things), was introduce Three books in, to cause a wedge in the group, cause Lucy be jealous that maybe Lockwood would want an older women, but fear not. Lockwood is not her "type" and there are other options, she also shares a flat with another girl. There is so many things. Well, having diversity is automatically great right? No, not when diversity is literally a single person who never clarified, just ambiguous. Sure, this is a kids book (with Late teens and twenty-somethings characters ), but better rep exists in the same age group. Holly being gay feels like it so she doesn't get in the way of the other ships, because Lockwood and Lucy being endgame.
Also Holly was into Lucy going off the last book, not sure why she would still be at that points since Lucy is a troll, not in appearance, but in soul. Falling in Lust with terrible straight people is totally a thing for gay girls, but come on Holly, Lucy would have to be supermodel hot for that to happen, or Holly needs psychological help. The main issue is Holly Munro is the constant token.

The world building is interesting, but certainly isn't perfect. I mean we did never learn why the evil company decided to have a unicorn for symbol. I guess shitty world building and the whole Great Britain Crest thing. Though, what was with the Lamps as symbol as well.

Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars for Deadly Magic. The Plot and the world is still majorly better than the characters. Though, a bit rushed and not fully answered questions that I would have liked. The characters are such major pain and so samely the more time I spent with them, they're be tolerable if they were just bland, instead of Arseholes. Once again this children series where I wouldn't give them to children. I mean if grown arse adult capable of questioning characters' shitty behaviour, why not read this series?

I will be back with a video review of all the whole series. It will be doubtfully be fun.

P11, "Like the rest of us, she was in stealth mode: she had her long dark hair clipped back in a ponytail, and wore a zip-up top, skirt and leggings. I could go on about how well the all-black get-up suited her, but why bother? With Holly, that was a given. If she'd gone around wearing nothing but a dustbin suspended from her shoulders by a pair of spotty braces, she'd have somehow made it look svelte."

Page 13, "'You've heard of racism. You've heard of Sexism. Well, this is skullism, pure and simple. You're judging me by my outward appearance. You doing my word solely because I'm a skull lurking in a jar of slime-green plasm. Admit it!'" The skull is meant to be a bad person but someone sat down and wrote this.

Page 75,"[George speaking] 'Holly, you look upset. Crack those doughnuts open.'
'Thanks, I'll have an apple.'
He shook his head sadly. 'You've got to learn that when you're stressed, an apple doesn't cut it... I feel quite shaken myself, come to think of it.' His eyes flitted to the sideboard.
'Yes, grab the plates, George,' Lockwood said. 'We'll all have one.
And we all did, even Holly. George was wise in such matters: a doughnut was a good corrective".

Page 78-79, "Holly met it as she did all obstacles: with brisk efficiency that looked a problem in the eye and didn't blink. Whether it was breaking into the Fittes Mausoleum or standing up to interrogation in the street, she always maintained her trademark Munro cool. It was hard to imagine her ever losing this quality, and somehow, despite everything, that made me confident that nothing really dreadful could or would happen in this world. Her unflappable demeanour used to make me seethe, yet now I found it a source of reassurance. Come what may, I knew Holly's hair would swish like gossamer as she walked; her clothes would flow effortlessly round her curves; her skin would glow with that same coffee-coloured lustre that spoke of close association with mineral water and green-been salads, and contrasted, reprovingly, with my famous burger-and-biscuit complexion. No, Holly would always be the same, and that made me happy." Okay, but she still obsessed with the way Holly looks. She goes on discrible George and "His doughy, featureless face lacked signposts to a personality, let alone a strong opinion." So he looks stupid but isn't, is her whole point.

P169, "My sister Mary gave me the money to make one go once...'
 'Didn't know you had a sister, the skull said.
'I've got six.' I didn't mention that I hadn't seen any of them for years; that only Mary still wrote to me from the north of England. I tried to ignore the dull pang that accompanied the thought." Okay Holly shows up in the third book, and was hired when Lucy had went to visit family including sisters meaning that she has seen some of them less than a year.

P314, "From the expression on her face I expected trade-mark Flo diatribe at this point, but she just went quiet, nodded and slipped away into the garden. When Lockwood really wanted something, it was very hard for anyone to say no."

P318, "The basement had long been our main concern, Again, the front of the house was theoretically vulnerable. It was true that our office window opened directly onto the sunken yard below our front door. Steps led down here from the gate and, though dead plants in big pots filled the space, intruders easily reach the windows. However, after a burglary years before, we had added iron bars to these, and it was hard to see how they could be bypassed. This meant we all focus our attention on the back.
At the rear of the office, past the rapier practice room, the storeroom and the laundry room, you came to back door. It was made of glass, and opened straight onto the grass of the garden. Of all parts of the house, this door was the weakest point. Kipps put a series Of boards across the opening, but we doubted they'd survive."

Page 326, "'Anything would be better than getting chopped into pieces by a group of smelly relic-men,' Kipps said. 'No offence intended there, Flo - you've a girl. Come on, Lockwood - what's the plan?'

Page 354, "'Oh, don't worry about that. We've talked about that before.' She pushed her hair back from her face. 'I'm sure I was an utter pain as well. Anyway, it must have been odd, having me show up.'
'It was a bit, but—'
'But you needn't have worried.' She smiled at me. 'Funnily enough, Lockwood isn't actually my type.'
In my embarrassment, I'm not sure quite what expression was right then, though I doubt the eerie glow in the room made it massively attractive. It was sufficient to make Holly laugh. She moved to look through another spy-hole at the far end of the window, which gave a different angle on the garden.
'Don't look so shocked, Lucy,' she said. 'I know how you feel about him. But, if anything, I had my eye on someone else.'
'Good God, you don't mean George?'
Holly laughed again; her eyes sparkled as she glanced at me sidelong. 'You must know there are other possibilities in this world,' The smile faded, her body tensed. 'Hold it — we've got company out there.' "

"She likes having her own place. Did you know she got a flatmate? A girl who works at the DEPRAC. That was news to me.' Lockwood about Holly.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Book Review: Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

Yes, let me to criticise a book about conventions when I have never been to one.

Lexi Angelo is a convention Kid - she got a slip-board and a walkie talkie to prove it.

Aidan Green is a messy-haired, annoying arrogant author and he's disrupting her perfect planning.

In a flurry of awkward encounters, lost schedules and late-night conversations, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned...Things like falling in love.

Lexi's, our protagonist and narrator, life revolves around conventions. Helping to plan and run them, even when she should be doing school work. A big part of the book is actually about Lexi feelings towards conventions and what they mean to her.

Besides the obvious romance, we also have Lexi dealing with her dad deciding to get married to a woman he's never lived with.

Some of the novel I felt unrealistic, like the marriage being at a convention, maybe if it had been explained exactly why it had to happen then and there, besides the main events of the novel happening at conventions. There is generally a bit of disbelief when it comes to this book, but could technically happen, like a film actually being made straight away when the film rights are sold. There a lot of books that had the film rights sell before publication and were hits but are still not out years later. The fastest I've seen a book to film adaption would be the 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thompson but that didn't have casting confirmed three months after it's release and the films rights were sold a month after the book did, and that was a contemporary novel with a very timely story to tell. I guess this meant to be Harry Potter level but stuff still takes time script writing, casting, location scouting, hiring a crew and if it going to need a lot special effects that has to be considered in the pre-production as well. Though, maybe the film is just going to be garbage fire because they rushed it. That does happen too. You do just have to accept that this book gets massive as soon as it published. It can happen, often doesn't. No one has really got HP or Twilight big over night which I think this fictional book is meant to be. I mean even pre-publishing buzz doesn't mean success. Okay, this was weird tangent, it just did take me out of the story a little.

There is a lot of characters in this book, probably due to the fact that it takes a lot of people to run a convention, including Lexi's best friends Samira, Nadiya and Bede. We don't get a lot of time with these characters, but it's still believable friendships and history behind these characters. Harcourt does a good job of suggesting this history from the start. The romance side is okay, it's kinda hate to love thing and the characters talk to each so it more than just surface nonsense.

Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars for Running Trays. It's fun and does a pretty good job of building this Conventional community. It's a fun book, so if don't think too much about publishing and how film work it's fine. That's just me.