Friday, 31 July 2015

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Jurassic World of China, but with a lot more casualties, and dragons instead of dinosaurs.

The introduction is spot on when it comes to stereotypical preconceptions about China and its people. Which things automatically come to mind when you think of certain countries, and I can wager one of those things will be a black and white bamboo noshing bear.

C.J. is a herpetologist, and no that doesn't mean what you think it means, and has been called in for her expertise on reptiles (told ya). Talking about reptiles, I had no idea crocodiles had great memories and are intelligent enough to set traps days in advance.

China is quite adept at keeping the lid on any kind of negative press, especially inside their own country. They have a  a firewall on the internet and exclude information to change the historical narrative of their own country.

If I were to look up Tiananmen Square China from inside China I would find information on the most enjoyable tourist spot and not information on the site of a massacre. Luckily for everyone outside of the dark abyss, they can't change our memory of historical events, however it is an example of how easy it is for governments and countries to do exactly that. Change and form past events for future minds.

Reilly has combined fact with fiction in a way that may just make you wonder how probable the scenario is. I liked the way he has worked various cultural myths and literary quotes into the story.
Personally I think the dragons act like flying raptors, hunting in groups and communicating intelligently with each other, all with the end goal of eating tasty humans.

I think the real star of the book is Lucky, her fighting spirit and get go attitude are a bright light in this otherwise quite gruesome feast for the winged beasts.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

Is it just me or has Tempe received a new lease on life? She seems so rejuvenated, full of energy and a lot like her younger self. She is a breath of fresh air and impulsiveness in this book.

Things also come to a head with Tempe and Ryan. If you read the last book Bones Never Lie you will remember just how difficult runaway Ryan was. Instead of seeking solace and comfort, he just up and left for the hills.

Huge kudos to Reichs for making a point of mentioning public domain books and materials. Just how much literature and art is the property of the public domain, hence owned by all of us, is still not known by many people. Literally a treasure trove of classics and academia to be read.

Tempe is drawn into the case of a young missing girl, except according to her parents she isn't missing, she is merely gone. An amateur sleuth has drawn her attention to a possible connection to the girl and the bones of an unidentified body.

Reichs has also given due attention to so-called websleuths. The groups of people, who dedicate their time to solving cold cases and matching unidentified bodies with names of victims. Whole blogs, websites and forums are dedicated to this particular past-time.

An understandable obsession, but unfortunately it can be a very competitive one. Some of these websleuths are more interested in recognition and fame, a subject Reichs also hits upon in this story, and the ones who inadvertently cause harm to real cases.
Speaking in Bones features a revitalised Tempe, a softer Ryan and a bunch of crazy religious zealots.

Oh, and bones, many bones. Once again a great read by Reichs.

Buy Speaking in Bones at Amazon uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Swamp BonesBones Never Lie and The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs.

Read Exposure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs.

Read Two Nights by Kathy Reichs.

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Eight by Katherine Neville

You will have to pay attention to keep up with the multitude of characters and timelines, and it is quite a lengthy book.

I have seen many reviewers make comparisons to Dan Brown, but I have to vehemently disagree with any such comparison.

The whole story revolves around the Montglane Service, an infamous chess set rumoured to be the key to an immense source of power. The type of power that can make or break countries, kings and people.

Now, I have to say for a secret of such importance there a certainly plenty of people who know about it. Every Tom, Dick and Harry throughout the centuries seem to know of and want to possess the chess set and its pieces.

The reader wanders from the beginning of the French revolution to the 70's. Visiting the violence and butchery of the streets of Paris, during those times, and the political machinery of the present. Strong women are at the centre of the plot, both in the past and the present.

Neville mixes her fiction with historical fact and extensive knowledge about chess. In essence everyone wants to know where the set is, and those who do are in mortal danger.

It is a little long-winded at times, and the switching from past to present isn't quite as smooth as it could be. The historical sub-plots are quite extensive though, which makes up for some of the weaker parts.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J.A. Lang

This is what I would call a cosy murder mystery with an entertaining and memorable main character.

It is witty, light and perfect if you are looking for a comfortable read.

Crime and murder mysteries are often bogged down with gore, uncomfortable reality and taboo breaking topics.

That in itself isn't bad, but there is something to be said for the Christie type of story.The kind of story you read and enjoy without having to enter into the darkest folds of mankind.

As I mentioned before, Lang has created an amusing main character.Chef Maurice is the type of person, who is funny without even realising it. Very charming and completely eccentric. I mean, who keeps cheese and crackers in the glove compartment in case they get peckish? Then again, he is French.

Chef Maurice is joined by his sensible sidekick Arthur, and Harrison the four-legged furless culinary expert. Together they are a fearless trio of crime solving sleuths. Well, perhaps more lucky and accidental than actually deductive, but that is actually the charm of this series.

If you are looking for a spot of humour with your portion of crime, and a cosy entertaining read, then this will be right up your alley.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Life or Something Like it by Annie Lyons

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Annie Lyons, the author of Life or Something Like it, to the blog for an interesting Q&A, which is followed up by my review of Life for Something Like it. I hope you enjoy the the Q&A and my review!


Q&A

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons - a beautiful story of love and music by a writer I admire greatly.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)?Boyhood - left a mark on my heart because it said everything you need to know about growing up in a family - absolutely perfect.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander gal? (Combinations are possible) 
I have to confess that I've never watched either. I love Modern Family but I'm guessing that's not quite the same!

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Mary Berry - imagine the cakes!

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs totally count)
A lovely new hardback book by a favourite author (Louis de Bernieres last week) and Double Deckers. Lots of Double Deckers.

Do you have a Bucket List, and if so name one of the things on it?
Not really but I am very aware how short life is and I try to live in the moment instead of anticipating the next event - easier said than done but my children help with this. Children are very good at it.

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Life or Something Like It.

You have this knack of mixing really tough issues with what seem to be normal everyday family dynamics and situations.

When you start writing or come up with a concept is it a conscious decision to mix the two? Are you picking often very contentious issues to bring attention to them or is this more of a subconscious act during the writing process?
What a great question! That made me think... For this book, I wanted to write about a woman, who to all intents and purposes is sorted and happy. She is unapologetically single and child-free with no desire to change this - the introduction of her brother's children forces her to face certain realities for the first time. I am very interested in family dynamics so these became an inevitable part of the story.

Saying that, I really enjoyed the way you plonked or rather subtly weaved the Women: career vs children topic into the story. How do you feel about the choices you have made?
Hopefully it was more subtle than plonked! I was made redundant nearly six years ago just before my daughter started school and I took the decision to stay at home. I started writing firstly to see if I could do it and then I was lucky enough to be offered a contract with Carina. It's a job that I can fit around my family. I think it's a very personal choice and I am very happy with the way things have turned out!

Do you think women, as opposed to men and society in general, are more critical of other women when it comes to choosing either a career or children?
I think there's a lot of chat, partly due to social media & partly due to the way we feel the need to share opinions all the time. I don't think it's one section of society or another but I do believe that it's a personal decision and the world could do with being a little less judgemental sometimes.

Alongside that much discussed topic you also have your characters confront the choice of children or no children. Again an issue, which tends to get debaters all hot and bothered. Who do you think puts more pressure on women? Women, men or society in general? 
I think it's the same as for the career versus children topic and I think we all need to work harder at giving each other a break. Everyone has their own stuff to deal with and no-one understands completely what's going on in another person's life. I'm very much a live and let live person. My aim was to write a story that made people think about these issues and how we face them and as Cat has to look at life from a different angle, so we as readers do too. There are no right answers.

Another hot topic, especially if you are a parent of younger children or teens, is cyber-bullying. E-safety and cyber bullying have become the focus for schools and Ofsted. In your story the school seems reluctant to take the matter seriously. Do you think schools, parents and children should put more emphasis on it and offer training for staff, parents and children? 
I think schools do offer this (my children's school has). In Life Or Something Like It, it's to do with the head teacher's reluctance to admit that there's a problem (she doesn't want bad press for the school) but Charlie's teacher does offer to help. I do think that a lot is expected of teachers and schools these days and that it's our job as parents to work with them and be more aware of what our children face. The internet can be empowering for kids but they need our support and back-up to be able to use it safely and wisely. These are new challenges that we never had to face as kids so we need to make sure that we have the knowledge to be able to help them when they need us.

Lastly I would like to thank you for answering all my questions, both the bizarre and the more story focused ones.
Thank you for inviting me and posing such interesting and thought-provoking questions.


Review:

Annie Lyons has an intriguing way of mixing normal family life, dysfunctional relationships and important social topics of our time. It is so subtle you can barely tell and yet on a subconscious level you do take them on board. My point is Lyons makes her point without shoving it in your face.

Cat is a career girl through and through. The world of PR and the social media are the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up in the morning and her last thought at night. She has decided not to have children and focus on her career instead.

Unfortunately for Cat she ends up having to step up to mark as an auntie and take care of her niece and nephew. Two small humans, who don't exactly like Cat and aren't afraid to show it. One pre-teen and a very direct six-year old.What could possibly go wrong?

Cat finds herself questioning her own emotions. She realises she does care what her niece and nephew think of her. Ever so slowly the three of them start to build the beginnings of a fragile relationship.

I enjoyed the way Lyons brought up the age-old debate about career vs children. Women often feel as if they have to choose between one or the other, and those that have both know they can't give equal time to both of them. It is interesting to note that women tend to be the harshest critics of other women.

Instead of supporting members of their own gender they tend to point the fingers the most. Women who choose to stay at home are raked over the coals for doing so, and similarly career women are accused of neglecting their children or not being real women if they choose not to have any.

On top of that Lyons has also shone a spotlight on the topic of women choosing in general not to have children. Society tends to be critical and perceive those women as more selfish. Such a shame that the emphasis is placed on our role as baby-growers instead of women as individuals who have the right and freedom to choose.

Life or Something Like it is a breezy, comfortable read with plenty of funny moments and underlying serious ones, without ever being more complex than a just a simple 'girl discovers there is more to life than just her phone' story. It really is one of Lyons talents to create something memorable in such a simple and realistic setting.
Overall a good read and one I definitely recommend.

Buy Life or Something Like it at Amazon.UK or for any other retailers go to Goodreads.

Follow @1AnnieLyons or @HQStories visit annielyons.com or connect with Annie on Facebbook

Read The Choir on Hope Street or Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Herald 'The Sundering VI' by Ed Greenwood

This is part VI of The Sundering and culmination of the six part fantasy series.

Just like the other books in the series this can be read as a stand alone novel, although certain events and character may pop up in more than one book.

I found this last part a wee bit too busy. It also wasn't what I had envisaged for the last part in the series.

I would have liked to seen a better combination of the previous novels, even if only a little bit.

Greenwood has created strong characters, but perhaps not given any of them enough air time. Instead the book is bogged down by too many smaller characters, interactions between them and important monologues that were superfluous.

One of the golden rays of sunshine was Storm, mainly because her hair deserved its own prime time TV show. The tresses are magical tentacles.

Overall this has been a superb fantasy collaboration, and the blend of literary talent and authors adds to the ambitious series.
The Companions by R.A. Salavatore The Sundering I
The Godborn by Paul S. Kemp The Sundering II
The Adversary by Erin M. Evans The Sundering III
The Reaver by Richard Lee Byers The Sundering IV
The Sentinel by Troy Denning The Sundering V
The Herald by Ed Greenwood The Sundering VI

Friday, 10 July 2015

Die Magie der kleinen Dinge von Jessie Burton

Click here to read the English review of The Miniaturist
Eine wunderbare Mischung aus wichtigen sozialen Themen, Magie und außergewöhnliche Familienstrukturen.

Es ist wirklich eine magische Geschichte, trotz der Tatsache, das es stattfindet im Rahmen der streng konservativen niederländischen Stadt Amsterdam im 17. Jahrhundert. Ab und zu neigt es ein wenig morbide, dunkel und gruselig zu sein.

Petronella, oder Nella, ist ein junges Mädchen aus gutem Hause. Ihre Familie hat einen ehrwürdigen Namen, aber kein Geld, wogegen die Brandt Familie Geld hat und die Verbindung zu einem alten Familiennamen braucht. Nella ist angereist, um bei der Familie ihres neuen Mannes einzuziehen.

Ihre ersten Eindrücke sind eher weniger beeindruckend. Anstatt Nella willkommen zu heißen, ist ihre neue Schwägerin unfreundlich und das Hausmädchen benimmt sich, als wäre sie Nella gleichgestellt.

Der Brandt Haushalt ist ziemlich liberal, im Gegensatz zu ihrer Umgebung. Dies zeigt sich vor allem darin wie sich die Bevölkerung gegenüber Otto und alle anderen dunkelhäutigen Ausländern verhält. Die Brandts behandeln ihn wie ein Familienmitglied.

Nella is verwirrt durch das seltsame Verhalten ihres Mannes. Er scheint sich von ihr fernzuhalten und geht jede korperliche Annaeherung ihrerseits aus dem Wege. Erst als Nella ausversehen auf Johannes und seine neueste Eroberung stoesst, wird ihr klar warum er so zuruckhaltend ist.

Er jetzt versteht Nella, das alle im Haushalt sich ständig nur damit beschäftigten den Johannes und sein Geheimnis zu beschützen. Sein Geheimnis könnte ihn sein Leben kosten und alle in seiner Umgebung in Gefahr bringen.

Nella versucht eine Tragödie zu verhindern, aber findet sich stets von den merkwürdigen Vorahnungen der Miniaturistin geplagt und verfolgt. Irgendwie weiß die unheimliche geheimnisvolle Frau immer was als nächstes geschehen wird.

Burton hat eine faszinierende Mischung  aus morbide, dunkle Magie und die brutale Realität des derzeitigen Zeitalters erschaffen. Sie wandert mühelos zwischen den konservativen Strukturen der Gesellschaft und die verstrickten Gefühlsebenen der Charaktere umher.

Wer ist die Miniaturistin, wo kommt Sie her, was will sie denn? Es bleiben noch so viele Fragen unbeantwortet. Als Leser bekommt nur man eine kleine Kostprobe der mysteriösen Bastlerin, und ich persönlich hätte gerne mehr.

Ich hab eine Kopie die Magie der kleinen Dinge dank des Limes Verlags via Edelweiss erhalten.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

It really is a magical story, despite being packed into the strict confines of 17th century Amsterdam, and a little on the creepy side.

Petronella or Nella, as she is referred to in the story, is a young girl from a house of good repute. She has travelled to Amsterdam to live with her new husband and his family. Unfortunately first impressions of her new surroundings are less than welcoming.

Her husband Johannes isn't even home, her sister-in-law Marin is quite abrupt and hostile, and the maid speaks to her as if she were her equal.

The Brandt household is quite liberal in the sense that they treat Otto the dark-skinned man servant as one of the family. The rest of the Dutch people are insulting and abusive towards him.
Nella is confused by her husbands odd behaviour. He doesn't want any physical contact or any emotional exchange, and he avoids her as much as possible.

It isn't until she stumbles upon Johannes and his flavour of the month that she understands why he is so distant towards her. Nella slowly comprehends that everything in the house, and the actions of the household members, evolves around keeping Johannes safe. His secret can destroy himself and everyone around him, which is exactly what happens.

Nella tries to stop the tragedy from unfolding, a difficult task because the Miniaturist is not only one step ahead but also predicting the events. Neither of them can stop the inevitable from happening though.

Burton has created a fascinating mixture of the brutal reality of life, the strict confines of society and the morbid magical world of the Miniaturist. I would like to see the Miniaturist and her story unfold in another book.

The why, the who and the how still remain unanswered. The reader only gets a slight taste of the mysterious creator, and I for one would like some more.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss,

Click here to read the German review of The Miniaturist

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

The emphasis for me and the most interesting part of the book, was the relationship between mother and daughter and the attitude towards the elephant in the room. The elephant being the child's deafness.

Yasmin seems to be envious of relationship Ruby has with her father, perhaps because he understands her silence. He also tries to help integrate his daughter without trying to usurp her own voice.

Ruby chooses not to use her speaking voice, but has rather cleverly found her written voice and a way to interact on social media, which gives her another kind of speaking voice.

Yasmin is adamant Ruby use her voice, to the point that she makes her daughter even more determined not to do so.Yasmin acts as if she is almost embarrassed by Ruby's deafness. She wants her to behave like other children. This battle between mother and daughter is evident throughout the story and also how much distance is between them because of it.

The complex relationship plays an integral role in the story, and is the one thing keeping the boat from sinking, as far as I am concerned. Aside from that and the big nod in the direction of how dangerous fracking is for our environment and us in general, the story struggles to retain any semblance of reality. In what world is someone going to become an instant ice trucker, and no her being a physicist does not count.

The narrator often changes in mid-chapter, which is often confusing and could be clearer. The plot is a little far-fetched, but the very realistic relationship issues between mother and daughter make up for what it is lacking.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Widow's Son by Thomas Shawver

Today is my turn on the Blog Tour for The Widow's Son. I hope you enjoy my review and the fantastic Q&A with Thomas Shawver as much as I did.


Q&A with Thomas Shawver:
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
Personal by Lee Child; and Danger on the Page, A Fiction Writer’s Guide to Sex, Violence, Dead Narrators  and Other Challenges published by ForeEdge, the University Press of New England.

Which song, band, group or music do you listen to that readers would be surprised to know about? While writing I’ll listen, depending on my mood, to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; traditional Irish, or classical chamber music.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)? Peter Weir’s Master & Commander, based on Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey series, starring Russell Crowe.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones, Walking Dead or Newsroom type of guy? (Combinations are possible) None of the above. Big Bang Theory and The Americans are more my cup of tea.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Sir Joseph Banks.  Explorer, botanist, bon vivant. He sailed with Captain Cook on the first voyage.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs totally count)
A pint of Guinness.  Shaken, not stirred.

If you had X-amount of money available to you, which rare book would you try to acquire?
For sheer rarity and bragging rights, I’d go for Tamerlane and Other Poems, Edgar Allen Poe’s anonymously published first book. Book expert Nicholas Basbanes refers to it as the ‘Black Orchard’ of American literature. Only eleven copies are known to exist, none in private hands.  The last recorded copy was found in a New Hampshire barn in the late 1980s and bought for $15.  In 1989 Sotheby’s auctioned it for $200,000.  As long as we’re dreaming, an inscribed first edition, first state Ulysses by James Joyce would also make a nice addition to my library.

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Widow's Son.

One of the things I really like about The Rare Book Mysteries is the focus on the actual books.
What made you pick that particular topic and career for your main character?
I owned and operated a used & rare bookstore for fifteen years that was similar to the one described in the series.

The relationship  between Josie and Michael seems to be threatened when they are both confronted with their ex partners and they reminisce about the past. Is there a potential love triangle or split on the cards?
Bevan likes women—and a lot of women like him.  Vice-versa for Josie Majansik when it comes to men.  Both are somewhat damaged by past experiences that affects their relationships. There’s always an underlying question of trust for them, hence the tension. I can’t see either of them leaving each other now though.  They seem to have weathered the storm.  But one never knows…

Why on earth does he have the infamous 'head' in his secret lair? (Bit big for a lucky charm, don't you think?)
Michael has issues.  Some unresolved.  There is a marvelous cartoon in a recent New Yorker Magazine that I saw long after including that bit in my book.  It shows a young woman speaking into a cell phone while looking at a skeletal head in an opened refrigerator.  The caption reads: “Usually I’d be nervous, but the rest of his apartment is so nice.”

Did you pick the Mormon religion, history and bible to shed light on their complex past and also their own historically important rare books?
Mormonism is endlessly fascinating.  A great many non-Mormons still think of the religion as a cult, while a majority of Saints don’t believe they are accepted as part of mainstream society.  The candidacy of Mitt Romney may have altered those views to a great extent, but the tension remains.  I recently attended a local showing of the Broadway musical “Book of Mormon” which pokes fun at elements of the faith to an outrageous degree.  In the copy of the handbill, however, was a full page ad from the LDS Church.  It read: “You’ve seen the play; now read the book.” Brilliant counter-marketing.

The area of western Missouri (where I live) made for a very unhappy place in the church’s history. The Missouri Mormon War of 1838 was brutal, resulting in atrocities committed by both sides.  It led to the forcible expulsion of Joseph Smith, Jr., and all of his 10,000 followers.  Today the metropolitan Kansas City area (that includes Independence where Smith decreed it to be the original Garden of Eden) claims over 30,000 adherents.

As for books, the collection of rare Mormon tracts, hymns and other historical artifacts is a huge business.  Ken Sanders of Salt Lake City, a great bookman, is the acknowledged expert on the subject.  A few years ago, an early hymn book found in Independence, Mo., went for $250,000 at auction.  A rare first edition/first state inscribed Book of Mormon, similar to the one described in my novel actually was offered to me at my bookshop.  I couldn't afford it, but it set my creative juices flowing to write The Widow’s Son.

Is there anything Michael wouldn't do for the right rare book find?
Michael Bevan is a book seller—not a collector, and certainly not a bibliomaniac (as opposed to bibliophile).  He may drink too much, fool around with the likes of Pillow Wilkes and Sandra Epstein while sharing a house and business with Josie, but he’d never lie, cheat or steal to obtain a book…Although, come to think of it, he did conspire a bit with colleague Gareth Hughes to lower the bidding at an auction in The Dirty Book Murder.  Oh, well.

Is there any chance Pillow will appear in another book?
I really like Pillow Wilkes.  And I really, really like New Zealand. Maybe I’ll visit her in another series—if Josie will let me.

Thank you for answering my questions, especially the slightly unusual ones.
You are very welcome. They were very good and it was fun answering them.







Review:

As a bookworm I do enjoy stories with books in the middle of the plot, especially rare or unusual ones. So Shawver's The Rare Book Mysteries series kind of ticks a lot of my bookworm boxes.

Michael Bevan is back with a vengeance and finds himself drawn into a murderous game of  'kill a relative' hosted by a bunch of religious zealots.

Luckily for Michael he has a great support system in the form of an old friend from Left Turn at Paradise, a very old friend indeed. The kind of friend you let stay in your house in a cupboard. (You're going to have to read the book to find out what or who I'm talking about)

Bevan is drawn into the tumultuous and fascinating past of the Mormons, their religion, their important historical religious sites and manuscripts. He accidentally stumbles into a very old vendetta and search for vengeance. A cat and mouse game between Bevan and the only possible suspects begins.Who has turned a leaf and which one of them is a liar?

Of course in the midst of all the murder, stalking and a variety of other crimes, Bevan is still the same old ladies man with an eye for a pretty woman, which comes back to haunt him in quite a unique way in this book,

Once again Shawver manages to weave historical fact and antiquarian treasures with murder and mayhem. At the same time he creates chaos in both love and family life for his main character. It makes for an interesting combination and read.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of The Widow's Son.
To buy on Amazon UK or any other retailer via Goodreads.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dark Paradise by Angie Sandro

You can't fault Sandro for her creativity and enthusiasm.

Unfortunately instead of it being fast paced I found it hectic and unclear at times.

Sandro needs to control her enthusiasm and be clearer, because at the moment it is to the detriment of the story.

Dark Paradise is New Adult, which is essentially a YA with quite a bit of the horizontal tango thrown in for free. I thought it was on the younger end of YA, despite the occasional fondle.

The characters are very teeny, flighty and immature. The plot has a lot of potential, but is weighed down by the hectic and often slightly chaotic writing.

However Sandro does have a lot of good ideas, and as a reader I can see the potential, because she has an abundance of creativity.

Mala comes from a long line of voodoo, hoodoo witches, but she is unaware of her hidden talents. Those talents start to manifest in the form of visitations by ghosts, when she finds the body of a young girl in the middle of the bayou.

She finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Accused by the town, while the ghost of the girl demands answers from Mala at the same time.

As if that wasn't difficult enough her romantic interests are drawn in two separate directions at the same time. There is cute police officer and the temperamental brother of the victim.

Overall this is an ambitious urban fantasy with plenty of potential for development and improvement.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Everything You and I could have been If we weren't You and I by Albert Espinosa

Original title: Todo lo que podríamos haber sido tú y yo si no fuéramos tú y yo

Marcos has just lost his mother and has sworn to stay awake forever more. He has paid for an injection, which will render him unable to sleep ever again.

Although definitely an interesting sub-plot, it wasn't really linked to the main story in a way that made any sense or difference to the story.

I thought it was a missed opportunity, especially after Espinosa had gone to the trouble to point out how much we would miss sleep if it wasn't available to us any longer. Linking it to the more surrealist aspect of the book would have been intriguing.

There was an unspoken, yet hinted at, sense of inappropriate closeness between mother and son. It seemed almost incestuous, which is interesting because of the way that theme links to the end of the story. ( the book is about 130 pages in length)

It isn't easy to fit this into one genre, because it is a mixture of sci-fi (just a smidgen) and a kind of transcendental fantasy. Personally I think the story was more about souls, rebirth and parallel worlds.

Souls and soulmates being connected through time, space and different worlds. Connected, disconnected and reborn to find each other once again. Sometimes they find each other, but the relationships they are born into keep them from being together in the here and now.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Upcoming Blog Tour for The Widows Son by Thomas Shawver

On the 9th of July 2015 it is my turn on the Blog Tour for The Widow's Son by Thomas Shawver.


About The Widow's Son

In 1844, Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, died at the hands of an angry mob who stormed his jail cell in Carthage, Illinois. Shortly after, a radical faction of Smith’s followers swore to avenge Smith’s death by killing not only the four men deemed most responsible, but to teach their heirs to eliminate future generations of the prophet’s murderers as well.

One hundred and seventy years later, rare book dealer Michael Bevan is offered a valuable first-edition Book of Mormon that bears a strange inscription hinting at blood atonement. Within days of handing the book over for authentication, the volume disappears and two people lie dead. Michael soon learns that his friend Natalie Phelan, whose only crime is her genealogy, is the likely next victim. One of her would-be murderers has fallen in love with her, another is physically incapable of carrying out the act, but other avenging angels remain on the loose.


When Natalie is kidnapped, Michael must venture into a clandestine camp of vengeful men hell-bent on ritual sacrifice. To save her life, the book dealer needs all his worldly courage, brawn, and wits. But to defeat fanatics driven by an unholy vision, a little divine intervention couldn’t hurt.

Join me back here on the 9th of July for a Q&A with Thomas Shawver and my review of The Widow's Son!

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

If you haven't read anything by Sharon Bolton yet then I would encourage you to pick up one of her books the next time you're looking for something to read.

She weaves her tale with historical fact, extensive geographical and environmental knowledge and a great depth of emotion. In Little Black Lies she hits on quite a few important topics, which she does by mixing them subtly into the folds of a crime story.

Post-traumatic Stress disorder, postpartum depression, the plight of beached whales, grief and the mentality of islanders.

The book is split into three voices or narrators and culminates with the three of them coming together for an unexpected ending.

The story starts with Catrin, although to be fair the reader doesn't know who it is or that she is a woman until a few pages in. Catrin is woman shrouded in intense pain and grief. The grief has manifested itself and she has almost channelled it into an intense feeling of rage. In turn the rage is now focused on vengeance. She is building herself up to take revenge on the person who took her children from her.

The story continues with Callum, an ex-soldier with an eye on Catrin. Callum is suffering from PTSD, caused by the events he experienced as a soldier during the Falklands War. He is sometimes overcome by flashbacks, which causes blackouts and violent outbursts. He finds himself losing time and fears he is a danger to those around him.

Then there is Rachel, mother of three, best friend to Catrin and the accidental killer of two young boys. She has been in limbo since the traumatic incident. On top of that she has trouble bonding with her youngest child, perhaps she even resents his presence.

Their complicated situation comes to a head when a young boy gets lost on the island, the third child to go missing in the last few years. Catrin and Callum work together to find him, but inadvertently find the spotlight on themselves when yet another child goes missing.

It is an excellent blend of menacing dark thoughts, moments of heartbreak, frenzied mass hysteria and lynch mobs, and in the midst of it all the simplicity of relationships that have broken down.I really enjoyed the read. It was such an interesting mixture of crime, passion and emotional torture.

The pace is consistent and steady with plenty of twists and turns, and it had a really unexpected turn of events towards the end. Bolton is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Shatter by Erin McCarthy

This certainly fits firmly into the en-vogue New Adult category. The difference between this one and the previous books in the series is definitely the emphasis on sex scenes between the main characters, as opposed to the relationships between them.

Not just the occasional scene either and it wanders quite close to the erotic genre (or well on the way).

Whereas I would recommend the previous ones in the series (the few I have read) to older teens, I wouldn't do the same with this one, simply because it is quite graphic.

I understand wanting to attract or market to a different age bracket, but when your readers are used to a series it seems a little risky to change the goal posts half way in.

Aside from that small issue McCarthy delivers the teenagey dramatics, despite the characters being college age and older. Kylie is still blathering on about her ex-boyfriend Nathan and the infamous betrayal by Robin.

I have to say it still irks me the way McCarthy describes the drunk sex scenario. In the previous book Believe Robin is completely blathered and Nathan takes advantage of it, ergo has sex with her aka 'I still think it was rape' not a so-called mistake. I actually think McCarthy added an extra sexual detail to that night in hindsight to make it look more like a consensual mistake. ( will have to read the previous again to confirm)

Kylie still hasn't let go of the past and feels completely validated in pushing Robin away. She ends up having a one night stand with consequences. Her partner in crime is a new guy on the scene, who has to deal with her old insecurities and newly acquired ones.
A combination of relationship drama, steamy antics and First World problems.