Bursts of Fire – Susan Forest (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and half ‘Magiel’ stars ????

‘Bursts of Fire’ is the first novel of Susan Forest’s series ‘Addicted to Heaven’ where she sets out to explore the complex world of addictions. Using a vast fantasy world as the backdrop, it makes for an interesting read with a unique premise.

The world is built beautifully, with descriptions scattered about the chapters, allowing the reader to put the jigsaw of that massive land of many kingdoms. The world was well-formed in the author’s head before she put it down on the page but I felt like some of the information is a bit too much for a first book – at times it was hard to keep up.

The plot is built well and fits with the overarching theme of addiction marvellously (retrospectively, as I didn’t realise it did until the very last page – in the author blurb). The unique take on the Heavens as a normal destination was refreshing and the whole idea with death tokens and magic being time, and the payment being jumping in your own timeline was simply delicious. So creative! Kudos, Ms Forest.

The pacing was strange – the jumps in time connected to the narrative, were executed poorly, leaving me thinking ‘Wait, what? When did this happen? Oh, it’s been three months.’ It was at times a very confusing read.

The characters are not this novel’s strongest point. There is good selection of different narrators, presenting plenty of different points of view but I couldn’t connect emotionally to any of them but Eamon – and the poor lad wasn’t even a POV character! I struggled with hearing their unique voices and had to frequently figure out who was speaking.

Despite that, it is a good tale of sisterhood. It was beautiful to see the three sisters survive together, grow apart and then find each other in a world that had robbed them of adulthood at their own pace.

Rennika is slightly unrealistic to me because she was such a mature, reasonable character – do 11-13-year-olds behave so well? Maybe. I am not convinced.

The writing style is good. But good means things could be better. There were spelling and punctuation mistakes and dubious grammar. Not too many but enough to make me want to mention them. I liked the extensive vocabulary of the author and her ability to tie it to complement a character’s inner world. Overall, well done.

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Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and a half ‘Nice and Accurate’ stars ????

Good Omens is basically a classic of the comedy genre. In the edition I read, the authors even acknowledge it themselves. And now that Amazon Prime Now and BBC 2 have picked up the people’s favourite apocalypse story for a series, the book is once again in the spotlight.

Before I get into the specifics, I want to say I massively enjoyed this book. On other occasions I had tried to read Pratchett’s work and Gaiman’s work but couldn’t find it in myself to enjoy them. Something was missing for me. And somehow, this collaboration filled those missing bits and created a book I could not only finish, but also enjoy immensely along the way. To that, I say ‘Bravo!’

The plot is a quirky retelling of the popular doomsday idea, all mixed with the Antichrist, angels and devils, the Four Horsemen and humans being weird and wonderful. In itself it’s nothing new but the way the characters interact with the whole concept is outstandingly done.

Pacing for me was a bit off, the first half of the book was a bit of a drag and I persevered only because the jokes were good. In that sense, it seemed very much like a normal Pratchett novel. But as the Apocalypse started happening, and the action picked up, it was as if Gaiman took the reins and brought these characters together into what seemed to be a perfect finale. I know that’s not how the writing happened but it sure felt like it.

The characters are the best part of this book. They are diverse, likeable and thought-through. The banter between Crowley and Aziraphale was to die for. (See what I did there?) My favourite character was Anathema Device, not only because she was both funny and inspiringly dedicated, but also because the prophecies of her ancestors were a very innovative way of storytelling which provided both plot progression and world building.

The writing style was impeccable, which is nothing to be unexpected from two brilliant authors. The sentences were beautiful and some of the amazing comparisons seemed to be so creative, I would stop to read them twice and mull over how someone could come up with them.

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