The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey | ☆☆☆☆☆

A FANTASTIC 5 STARS

When I requested this book to read, I had no idea the immense impact it would have on me so many thanks to Tinder Press for a paperback copy of this book. First published in 2012 I am so pleased it has been re-published this year.

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This is a wonderful grown-up fairy tale carefully woven together with the original story.   

  • Kindle edition
  • File Size: 1564 KB
  • Print Length: 428 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755380534
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0755380533
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • ASIN: B006YIA9NA
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (1 Feb 2012)

Buy here:  Amazon UK,    Amazon US

Or from any other good book store on your high street or online.

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone—but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place, things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

My Review:               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why this book speaks to me personally: Each year I was given a book token at Sunday School and this one year at the book shop I chose Old Peters Russian Fairy Tales for 7/6d.  Four years ago I sold my house and my library of much loved books, keeping just a handful when I moved onto a narrowboat. Today on my little bookshelf tucked away at the stern of my boat-home, is the little blue leatherette covered book.  Some of the pages have old yellowed sellotape on the missing corners where Patch our dog somehow got hold of it and chewed it. But amongst the chewed pages the stories were my escape from a tough childhood, hiding away in the bedroom I shared with my sister or down the end of the garden amongst the raspberry patch reading the stories over and over.  The illustrations in black and white took me to far off lands of snow where I felt alive.  So, reading The Snow Child to me is like revisiting my childhood excitement in stories.

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Eowyn Ivey brought me two of my most favourite passions: Alaska and fairy tales.

What I loved about this book? I love how the words are from someone who lives in and loves Alaska; the remoteness and harshness, but the true beauty of the wilderness, where summers are brief and the winter darkness prevails. Just listen to this:

“She had imagined that in the Alaska wilderness silence would be peaceful, like snow falling at night, air filled with promise but no sound, but that was not what she found. Instead, when she swept the plank floor, the brook bristles scratched like some sharp-toothed shrew nibbling at her heart.”

and

‘Outside, the air was clean and cool agains her face, and she could smell the wood smoke from the chimney. She let the snow float around her, and then Mabel did what she had as child – ruined her face to the sky and stuck out her tongue. The swirl was dizzying and she began to spin slowly in place. The snowflakes landed on her cheeks and eyelids , wet her skin. The she stopped and watched the snow settle on the arms of her coat. For a moment she studied the pattern of a single starry flake before it melted into the wool. Here, and then gone.’

I can’t imagine any person who hasn’t done that when they were a child, a simply beautiful description!

The struggle of a couple each silently grieving for their stillborn child, to live and survive in the wild. I wanted them to make it work.   Mabel so desperate to get out in the fields with Jack her husband, to get physical release from her grief.   Jack wanting to protect her from the harshness and pain of working outside tasking her to keep house and prepare his meals.   During the turn of the century pioneers had no modern appliances or generators to make living easy, just a horse and a plough if they were lucky, oil lamps for light, and a cast iron stove to cook on and keep warm. There is a real sense of history in the way the lives of the couple are portrayed in their struggle to survive the wilderness, and for Jack and Mabel had most of all the unbearable emptiness of being childless.

Until one day they build a snow child.

The love that Jack and Mabel share after thirty years is one of solidness but have never before have they known such love they have for the girl as she runs about amongst the trees and when Mabel remembers her father reading to her the story of the Little Daughter of the Snow from a blue leather bound book she can’t quite believe that this child is of snow.

Don’t make the mistake in thinking that this is not an adult book or a soft option to read, this is a great novel written beautifully, it made me cry, and it made me smile, I felt despair when Jack is injured, and grateful that their wonderful neighbours came to help out. The snow child Faina has her own part in the story, and it’s one that I didn’t expect.

You get a real sense of Mabel and Jack as people here:

You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hand s as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.’

and

Jack wasn’t one to believe in fray-tale maidens made of snow. Yet Faina was extraordinary. Vast mountain ranges and unending wilderness, sky and ice. You couldn’t hold her close or know her mind. Perhaps it was so with all children. Certainly he and Mabel hadn’t formed into the molds their parents set for them.’

Their neighbours, the Bensons, bring much warmth and comfort to the book, full of strong boys, and a happy capable woman bottling fruits and shooting bears. What follows is descriptive warmth that conveys a family home full of chaos, love and hope.

‘It was if Mabel had fallen though a hole into another world. It was nothing like her quiet, well-ordered world of darkness and light and sadness. This was an untidy place, but welcoming and full of laughter. ‘

I have visited those homes wishing I could stay a while longer…

There is an immense aching sorrow in the ending, but like all good stories there is also hope.
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I am planning a once in a lifetime trip to Alaska with my daughter within the next couple of years before I decline cognitively with dementia (having Alzheimer’s disease) and reading The Snow Child felt very special to me, as if it’s drawing me closer there. This book will be placed along side my 1955 copy of Arthur Ransome’s Old Peters Russian Fairy Tales with illustrations by Dmitri Mitrokhin for keeps.

The Girl On The Train | Paula Hawkins

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What is different about this book: This novel evolves through the eyes of different people who each have their own view of life and events. Each person telling their own story, laying bare their lives to be absorbed by the reader. How then can the truth be pieced together when the facts are fragmented and damaged? A brilliant way to read a tense thriller without being told of the plot and I was left guessing right up until the end.   4.5 Stars for me

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  • Published Date: Hardback & Kindle:  15th January 2015
  • Paperback:  2nd January 2015
  • Publisher:  Transworld
  • Hardcover, 384 pages, Paperback 320
  • Author: Paula Hawkins
  • ISBN: 0857522310
  • ISBN13: 9780857522313

Available to pre-order from stores including:

Book Depository  Amazon UK  Amazon UK

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Synopsis:

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists. 

Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together. 

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn’t have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself

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My Review

It starts with Rachel on a commute to London. Personally for me train a journey is like being in another place and time’, and reading this I felt like I was on a train remembering my days of travelling to work with the same people every day:

“I just want to lean back in the soft, sagging velour seat, feel the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the window, feel the carriage rock back and forth and back and forth, the comforting rhythm of wheels on tracks.”

Rachel describes her train journeys with such intimacy that I was drawn into her life and travelling with her. This was not just a commute for her it was a journey through her miserable life with a destination still unknown.

She routinely watches out of the window, especially at the row of Victorian houses where she sees Jess and Jason on the patio in the mornings having coffee. Of course that is not their names, she has built them a fantasy life in her head.

“I can’t see Jason and Jess this morning, and my sense of disappointment is acute. Silly I know. I scrutinise the house, but there’s nothing to see.”

She is creating a fantasy relationship in her head but the line between reality is blurring.

A few doors away she sees Anna – who is real and is now married to her ex husband and living in her house. They have the baby she never had.

When Rachel describes the time she knew her husband was cheating on her, Hawkins uses such a beautifully put line:

“Sometimes its a text or a voicemail message; in my case it was an email, the modern-day lipstick on the collar.”

Oh, I could go on waxing lyrical about the life of Megan and Anna too, but I would would not want to spoil the book for you, let me just say, their lives are equally as interesting as Rachel’s and very pertinent to the plot.

The disappearance of Megan starts Rachel hurtling towards self destruction as she tries to find out what happened manipulating her need for attention, recognition, self worth, and maybe something else. As reality and fantasy become confused Rachel knows she has important information that could solve what has happened to Megan. She draws you into this journey with her, with the fear that it is not going to end well.

Throughout the book Paula Hawkins gives an insight into alcoholism and its effects on oneself and others. This felt so real it was a warning, I have met ‘Rachel’, seen her in the pub, and avoided her on the street.

This is a tense thriller, at a pace which echoes the commute of the train, with imagined scenes from the window with the stops at the lights. I loved each and every character; Rachel got my sympathy and my cringing annoyance – come on pull yourself together girl! Jess; who would have thought she was as complex as that, and her secret – wow thats deep! I wanted to dislike Anna, because she broke up Rachel and Tom’s marriage, but you know that she is not that nasty. I enjoyed how the characters of the men were real even the strangers; someone speaks to you, they are in your head somewhere, but you can’t quite place them and you are not sure whether you are afraid of them.

Listen to this line, absolutely the best quote of the book for me: 

“LIFE IS NOT A PARAGRAPH AND DEATH IS NO PARENTHESIS.”

I recommend it to everyone who loves a different psychological thriller.

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Many thanks to the Publisher for an ARC via NetGalley in return for an honest opinion.

Dark Prayer | Natasha Mostert ✭✭✭✭✭

Amazing Book! – 5 stars from me23139924-2

  • Publisher: Portable Magic Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 296 pages
  • Publication date: 16 October 2014
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1909965219
  • ISBN 13: 9781909965218

Available to buy on Amazon UK and US and other book sellers.

Blurb:

Jennilee is a girl who is in a ‘fugue’ state – having reinvented her identity after an amnesic episode. Eloise as she is now known is having a ‘shatter’ (kind of flashback) of memory not necessarily her own and not only that but someone is trying to kill her.
During a moment of a shatter Mostert beautifully describes a moment:

It was a letter that told of music in the darkness and daffodils in the spring. The memory of it was strong. Or perhaps, she thought as she continued to stare with aching heart, it was a memory of things she never knew.

Along comes Jack who agrees to his father’s demands to travel to London to help find her but discovers that the people who want to bring her back have motives that are not wholly benevolent. A photograph of a group of people which includes Jack’s own father and Jennilee’s mother reveals a mystical group of scientists calling themselves the Order of Mnemosyne. The mystery around her lost memory deepens when they dig deeper into finding out what’s behind it all.

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What I liked about this book and why you should read it:

This is the first of Natasha Mostert’s books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed it. What I liked about it best was the mixture of philosophical ideas of memory and identity. As someone living with memory dysfunction I identified with the whole discussion around memory as a crucial component of identity.

Think of this; if your memory was altered or manufactured from the original who would you be?   If your memory could be altered to wipe out distressful events how would that change you?   Even more important who would you want to be?   Losing one’s memory is one of the most feared aspects surrounding dementia, and with it one’s identity.   The issues of memory that Mostert discusses in detail are so knowledgeable and thought provoking.

There is a line which casually invites you to think about it:

As he flicked off the TV remote, he wondered idly at what point unreliable memories started affecting one’s sense of self.

Who is Jack; an American rich boy, bit of a waster, no job, just living it up, drinking and fighting etc, you get the picture. Then big-guns Daddy, tells him he has to go to England to help look for a missing girl and bring her back to her ward Daniel a friend of his. Jack a free runner, agrees to find Jennilee Gray who also loves the activity of ‘parkour’.

Now calling herself Eloise Blake, Jack falls in love with her and helps to unravel the mystery surrounding her which involves the Order of Mnemosyne, their parents, memory and scientific experimentation. What will Jack and Eloise find out about her life, and how will she deal with it?

There is a wonderful mix of exciting story telling and deep thinking around spirituality and psychology. This is a book that you are unable to read without looking at yourself and questioning what makes you, you.

Stunningly clever stuff!

I loved the complexity of the characters and the plot, each with their own agenda’s. References to Aleister Crowley gives an understanding to the type of order behind the plot, and having read a great deal of Crowley it gave me the insight of the darkness of the order. If you haven’t read or don’t know Crowley, no matter, because Mostert gives enough details for you to understand completely.

Free running: I had heard about it but not in any detail; what a thrilling activity it is! Oh I wish I was 40 years younger because I would just love to do this. Just reading it gave me a real sense of what it feels like to do it, and that is a mark of a great writer!
Just listen to this snippet:

Free running can be exhilarating. It can be like flying…
Movement is life. That was what parkour was all about. Never look back. Find another way.

Mostert has gauged the reading pace of the plot completely right, is not too much to be too complicated to follow, and enough to be exciting.

An excellent read which I recommend to all who love an intelligently thought out book.
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Many thanks to the Publisher for a digital copy via NetGalley for an honest review.

Meet the Author:   

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Natasha Mostert is a South African novelist and screenwriter, who specialises in contemporary psychological thrillers with mystical and paranormal themes. She grew up in Pretoria and Johannesburg but currently lives in London with her husband, Frederick. She still keeps an apartment in the university town of Stellenbosch in the Cape province.

To read more about Natasha, check out her website and see what other books of hers you can buy -  Natasha’s Website.

Lessons in Humiliation by Timothy Edward

The wit of the writing in this novel is absolutely sublime and made me laugh out loud continuously.23270033

My rating this book ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2655 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Matador (24 Sep 2014)
  • ASIN: B00NX11LBK

Ebook available to buy from:  Amazon UK, Amazon US,

Book:  Book Depository, Waterstones and more

Synopsis

Henry Robson is suffering. He is a balding, failing actor living all alone in rural Dorset. When two choices present themselves, he inadvisedly selects both…

Initially, a torrid affair seems to tick all the boxes, but any happiness derived from the liaison soon unravels when Henry, untrained as a teacher, accepts employment at a school run by a madman. Finding himself surrounded by specialists in humiliation – professional, public and private – will he learn his lesson?

Follow the adventures and misadventures of this lovable but hapless rogue, a man all the more endearing for his weaknesses. Laugh as slapstick jostles for supremacy with the surreal, and cry twice over at moments of utter poignancy.

An Aga-saga for men (and for women wishing to know what men are really thinking), Lessons in Humiliation falls headlong towards a most unexpected dénouement. Fans of humorous fiction will find themselves crying both with laughter and out of sympathy for the plight of the narrator.

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My Review:

Some writers just have a gift for seeing a bizarre characters in an otherwise normal people and bringing them to life, and Timothy Edward’s has this gift.  A novel based around the author’s own experiences it is heartbreakingly hilarious.

What is different about this book: It is a tale of negotiating a way through relationships told from a man’s perspective, the highs, the lows, the failures and triumphs, the humiliation. This is what makes this book special along with the authors wonderful little illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.

I enjoyed this book very much, it made me laugh, it made me sad, it made me feel anxious and depressed. I love the style of the writing which was straight from the humiliated soul!

So here we have Henry, in the a cottage in the Village of the Damned, a failing actor unable to somehow secure a major role talking or non talking. We first encounter him auditioning for an advert, whereby he is required to drop his trousers and take a dump in a street! He somehow fails to get the role.

His life does not get better when he accepts a part time job as a drama teacher at St Gussage’s school, a privately run boarding school ruled by the mad Piers Halliday, who was undoubtedly my favourite character. As the Headmaster, Piers is a wonderful caricature of a man whose lack of sensibility and political correctness knows no boundaries. He is a self: admired and appointed king of his domain – the school. Meanwhile Henry falls in lust love with Valerie  who is a queen emasculator , and thereupon ensues a tortuous affair which he is unable to wean himself of. I wanted to take Valerie and banish her from being anywhere near men forever.

I am going to admit to feeling somewhat exasperated at Henry as he accepts yet another emasculation from this woman, I wanted to take Henry by the shoulders, shake him and tell him to ‘grow some balls man!
Each time Valerie turned up again, I found myself sighing and thinking no not again, ‘just say no, because you just know this is not going to be good’, but painfully he was eager for some more abuse from her, you just want it to stop.  But at the same time Edward’s gives it immense humour.  An astute observation of some relationships: you know its going to be bad but you can’t help yourself from repeating it hoping that this time it will be different, but of course it never is.

Then Henry a failure as an actor and a failure as a man, embarks on seeking his birth mother and finds a family with which he can call his own. This is the one good thing about his life, to be loved with the ability to have a relationship with his mother and uncle. On the up side and home; he has a wonderfully sardonic wit which gives him the superiority in being able to deal with the mad headmaster much to the awe of the other cowering staff and pupils.

I just have to give you a little snippets of the part when the Visiting Examiner (VE) comes to the school to assess the drama students. Having just learnt that the school’s old horse, smelly dog, and boy who looks after them in the stables are all called Oscar, Henry continues to enlighten the VE further about the school’s animals.

HENRY:  “…in fact, there’s another equally smelly dog who’d love to meet you; he’ll be with Matron somewhere.”

VE:  “The School Matron is in charge of a dog?”

HENRY:  “Of course. She’s besotted with that animal….She ’s also the school’s designated peacock keeper…”
“We have rats too,” I add, warming to my theme. “Usually dead though – in the wall behind the accounts office.” ….
“Mice too, but we don’t mind them because we need mice to feed the snakes.”

VE:  “Snakes?” she crackles……

And on it continues in the same vein!!

This book is so funny, but so achingly cringeworthy at the same time.

Who should read this book? 
1. Any man who is unable to leave a bad relationship
2. Any woman who needs to see how ugly it can look when emasculating harmless men.
3. Any Headmaster with grandeurs above his level of standing.
4. Anyone else who loves an intelligently well written wit and a good laugh.

Who is Tim Edwards? I ask this because this book makes you want to know who the author is and hope that he there are more like this. I so want to read more from him.

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Many thanks to the Publisher for a digital copy of this book via NetGalley in return for my honest review

Red Rose, White Rose | Joanna Hickson

 

20892659A beautifully written historical novel about the War of the Roses. Joanna Hickson presents this novel crammed packed full of historical facts, from events, people and places. I always think that reading historical novels, written accurately is the most enjoyable way of learning. Maybe high schools should encourage pupils to read this way and then discuss what they have learnt in class?

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Expected Publishing date:  4 Dec 2014
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007447019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007447015

 

Synopsis

The powerful story of Cecily Neville, torn between both sides in the War of the Roses. Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory.

Richard, the thirteen-year-old Duke of York, England’s richest heir.
Told through the eyes of Cicely and her half-brother Cuthbert, Red Rose, White Rose is the story of one of the most powerful women in England during one of its most turbulent periods. Born of Lancaster and married to York, the willowy and wayward Cicely treads a hazardous path through love, loss and imprisonment and between the violent factions of Lancaster and York, as the Wars of the Roses tear England’s ruling families apart.
So nearly queen herself, Cicely Neville was the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of kings – and her descendants still wear the crown.

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My thoughts on this book

The book is both interesting and entertaining, showing the strength and politic mannerisms of historical figures during that time. I often think about what it must have been like to live in the 15th Century with the tentative relationships between families stretching loyalties, and risking displeasure of others. Especially when loyalty to the King who was weak could be seen as disloyal to your own family and the risk of that could mean being killed as a traitor.

I loved the women characters, especially Cicely who matures from a child into an influential woman of her time. There is a great feel to the way each of the characters are portrayed in a way to give an authentic feel to what I was reading.

The bits that did not work for me:

There was such a lot of information that I couldn’t manage to hold it all in my head. Not only does Hickson give copious amounts of accurate details she also includes minor information such as pet names for each person which totally confused me. Because I was struggling to remember it all I lost the excitement of story.  Having said that I am sure that most people wouldn’t have the same problem.

Would I recommend this book: Yes definitely, it is well worth the read.

Joanna has written numerous well received historical novels, you can check out her Goodreads profile here: Joanna Hickson 

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Many thanks to the publisher for a digital copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

How The Light Gets In | Louise Penny – ☕️☕️☕️☕️

Rating:   4 ✭17447507

I don’t understand how I haven’t read any of Louise Penny’s books in this series before!

What have I been missing out on!  This book is the #9 in the series and I wished I had started at #1 it was that good.

 

Synopsis:

A DETECTIVE

As a fierce, unrelenting winter grips Quebec, shadows are closing in on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department and hostile forces are lining up against him.

A DISAPPEARANCE

When Gamache receives a message about a mysterious case in Three Pines, he is compelled to investigate — a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world has vanished.

A DEADLY CONCLUSION

As he begins to shed light on the investigation, he is drawn into a web of murder, lies and unimaginable corruption at the heart of the city. Facing his most challenging, and personal, case to date, can Gamache save the reputation of the Sûreté, those he holds dear and himself?

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This is my Review:

I just love the quilt of characters that make up the characters in this book. I think my favourite is Ruth with her duck, has she dementia or is she just a cantankerous old biddy with sharp eyes?

I realised that the main plot had been seeping into the series culminating in this book, but there was enough for me to understand exactly what was going on.

A brilliant mix of suspense and thrills kept me on the edge of my seat. I love how this multi layered crime novel presented a completely new crime to solve to get my teeth into.

I am a real sucker for brilliantly written lines and Penny didn’t disappoint me one bit. For a start it is set in my favourite scenery of all – snow, I knew it would only get better from there! Just listen to this, can’t you just picture two women sitting on a bench in a snow filled village:

“Constance laughed, a puff of humour that floated over the village green and joined the wood smoke from the chimneys.”

She also got me right there.. with the description of the snow I could identify with:

“This was the snow of her childhood. Joyful, playful,bright and clean. The more the merrier. It was a toy.”

I also enjoyed the wonderful humour Penny shares:
Constance thinks:

“Four days. And she had two gay sons, a large black mother, a demented poet for a friend and was considering getting a duck. It was not what she’d expected from this visit. “

There is a real cosy feel to the writing about the inhabitants of Three Pines who each have an interest the Chief Inspector solving the crime and I loved the feel of this book because of that.

This was a well paced story and I did not feel too cheated that I hadn’t read the previous 8 books because of the new crime that was being investigated which felt equally as important as to the historical corporate crime.

There was a great mix of old fashioned crime solving in a place due to lack of technology that added to the story, and the addition of the same technology to complete it.

To those who haven’t come across this author before – definitely worth a read.

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy via NetGalley for my honest review.

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 633 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Source ISBN: 0312655479
  • Publisher: Sphere (27 Aug 2013)
  • ASIN: B00CBFPRPA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  •  Series Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #9
  •  Literary awardsGoodreads Choice Nominee (2013), Left Coast Crime Award for Calamari (2014)
  • urlhttp://www.louisepenny.com

The Prophecy of Bees | R. S. Pateman – ✭✭✭✭

18804882☕️☕️☕️☕️  FANTASTIC!!  (based as a YA novel)

Izzy is teen, trying to find her own identity kicking back at Mum, Lady Lindy GiffinClark. A fresh start sees Lindy move the household to Stagcote Manor in the middle of nowhere.  A move that turns out to be more sinister than refreshing.

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Publisher Synopsis 

Moving to Stagcote Manor was meant to be a fresh start for Lindy and her teenage daughter Izzy. A chance at a new life in the country after things went so wrong in London. But for Izzy it is a prison sentence.

There’s something about the house that she can’t quite put her finger on. Something strange and unnerving. As Izzy begins to explore the manor and the village beyond its walls, she discovers the locals have a lot of bizarre superstitions and beliefs. Many of them related to the manor . . . and those who live there.

When Izzy begins to investigate the history of the estate, her unease deepens to fear as the house’s chilling past finally comes to light.

The Prophecy of Bees is a tense, gripping psychological suspense novel that explores the dark power of superstition and folklore.

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What I liked best about this book?

I love the character of Izzy I because I have met ‘her’ many times when I was a support worker with young adults. When you love a guy who is exciting, in a band and wrapped up in music, it is hard to cope emotionally when he is no longer around. Cosmo understood Izzy, and made her feel like she was a special someone. The agony of being misunderstood is very well portrayed in her character. I love the way Izzy describes her struggling relationship with her mother and how she feels:

Me looking the way I do is all about me, not her…

….because it made no space for who I wanted to be.

There are so many beautiful passages in this book that has real resonance with the difficulties of being a young adult, I could pick out many but reading them would be more enjoyable, I promise you. Pateman has great way of capturing the essence of each of the characters which is pleasurable to read.

Now, her mother is taking her away from London into the countryside, away from the buzz of the city into the countryside and enrolling her in a private school to ‘start afresh’ where she knows she will not fit in.

This a tense suspense and horror story, the manor they move to is exactly how you want a spooky manor to be, with a village and villagers to match. Lindy, her mother thinks life is going to be better for two of them but she knows nothing yet! I was on the edge of my chair eager to read what happens next.

The village is so full of weird folklore customs and rituals that it scares the daylights jour of housekeeper Olga when she is told of the things she must not do to incur the ‘curse’; and then the bees need to be told every piece of gossip going to keep them happy and old Cedric sees to that.

Twin sisters, Brenda and Glenda the help for Olga the housekeeper are wonderfully odd and dark, and Cedric (who incidentally sounded in my head like Joe Grundy from BBC Radio 4 The Archers!) was crazily eccentric but they all had an undercurrent of something hauntingly unwholesome about them.

Stagcote Manor is a hodgepodge of a building with bits added in different centuries adding to the dark spaces and undercurrents, and when Izzy hears noises in her bedroom at night she embarks on a journey she feels compelled to follow unearthing some dark secrets that have serious consequence.

The description at the beginning of Stagcote Manor is the start of what’s to come.

It’s so remote and empty that night snaps over it like a lid.

I love a good spooky tale and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I read this novel.

The bits that didn’t quite work for me:

The very start with ‘The gun doesn’t make me feel any safer…’ felt alien to the rest of the novel, I couldn’t connect the gun scene to anything specific in the book so it seemed out of place.

I also felt the the title was a little misleading as I was waiting for the bees to swarm or be malevolent and become a major part of the story but it didn’t happen.  I love the title and the novel but not together!

Although this is marketed as an Adult book it more suited as a Young Adult psychological/folklore and suspense genre, and is clearly a great novel for that market.

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All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Would I recommend this book!  –  YES Definitely

Many thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for an early copy in return for my honest review.

  • Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: November 20th 2014 by Orion
  • ISBN139781409128618
  • edition languageEnglish
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 520 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (20 Nov 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00L845OGM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Blue Mondays | Emily Dubberley ✭✭✭✭

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☕️☕️☕️☕️  FANTASTIC !!

Erotica that stands out from the crowd, this intelligent steamy novel is a cracking read!

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Synopsis:

Sensual and romantic, shocking and arousing, BLUE MONDAYS will change the way you think about your commute forever…

When Lucy Green sees a stranger drop his wallet on the Tube, it’s the beginning of a cat-and-mouse relationship that enlightens, frustrates and arouses her in equal measure.

She follows him to give it back, and is soon drawn into a situation she never dreamed possible, behaving in a way she never thought she would. She seems to respond to Ben at some animal level, and it’s frightening. Should she follow her head, say goodbye and carry on her way to work? Or go with him and explore her adventurous side?

Contemporary romance with a sizzling erotic element.

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Erotica is often just that, and somehow I was not expecting this to be such a great story!  For those of us who appreciate a great story AND great writing then Dubberley does not disappoint. Yes, we do want intelligent steamy novels, we want our characters to be lusciously delectable but emotionally real.  We don’t want simpering women whose lives are all about waiting for a man to make them into a stronger person, no we don’t.

We want what Dubberley gives us.

Lucy is a real character who has made some bad choices, and allowed her ex boyfriend to make her into what he wants. How easy is it to become the person that we think others want to please them and not realise it. The story starts from there, she must now find who she is and learn to be her own person.

I love the fact that there are whole lives involved, family, work, trauma and it has been woven together so wonderfully. The story is set in three places: London, Brighton and Cornwall each giving a different pace to Lucy’s life.

Dubberley paints Lucy’s work place so well, you just know some of those characters for real, the fashionistas and the way colleagues are judged by how well they fit in.

Sorry, haven’t I mentioned the sex yet?  Phew! what can I say? Well, we can all identify with bits of it at some point can’t we? 😉 Does Dubberley descriptive scenes fulfil the fantasy? Oh yes, definitely and some! This is real, delicious, oh so naughty, and hot. It is exciting, raw, and then again beautifully romantically staged. Ben is the fantasy male most women dream of, not perfect but not some screw up either.

I connected with the characters, I loved the plot which is good and will keep you gripped throughout and I loved the ending which left me with just enough conclusion, and curiosity to want to know what happens next.

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Many thanks to the publisher for a paper copy of this book in return for my honest review.

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (23 Oct 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444793543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444793543

Available in Paperback and Kindle edition

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Emily Dubberley

Click on here to visit the author’s page and see her other novels – Emily Dubberley

Firestorm by Tamara McKinley | ✭✭✭✭

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☕️☕️☕️☕️  FANTASTIC !!

Beautiful, poignant and touching! I had forgotten how much I love reading this genre; it moved me and the tears flowed!

Synopsis

Becky Jackson’s family has been managing the bush hospital in far-flung Morgan’s Reach for three generations. When Becky’s husband is tragically lost at war, she and her young son Danny must leave the city where she’s been living since marriage and return to her birthplace to start over.

But for all its charm, Morgan’s Reach is a divided community, where blood is thicker than water and grudges run deep. So when a mysterious stranger appears in the bush outside the town and Danny begins to act strangely, it is not only Becky’s newfound stability that’s threatened.

And what of the fact that there’s not been a drop of rain in over three years? The risk of firestorm looms large and the hospital is already pushed to breaking point. A single spark could level the area in minutes – burning away everything for which the town has worked so hard; exposing the secrets they’ve fought to keep so close.

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My Review:

Set after WWII all the men who were returning were home, and for those whose families without their loved ones, life had to go on.

Such a powerful drama about the lives of families struggling to live in the harsh conditions of Australia. The tight knit families lives are tested when storms and fires rage threateningly out of control, wonderful reading!

A superb plot, a boy waiting for his father who will never return, with a mother who is unable to move on because of it. A son returning back to his home town with a wife who is blind with grief seeking solace in a bottle. Another who seeks refuge from a brutal husband finding peace in a relationship that is concealed from everyone. Then there is the dead soldier who never returned from the war who goes home secretly to die following his beloved aboriginal spirits. Excellent stuff!

What I liked best:

I love the weave of families with their nuances and local histories.

There was real excitement with the storm, and the fire. A boy being lost in the bush looking for the stranger seen wearing soldiers clothes, hoping he is the father he cannot believe is dead, that somehow a mistake has been made and he will return home.

Gwyneth, is the great grandmother; grandmother and mother of a prominent family in the town who knows everything thats going on. Sitting on a veranda watching the townsfolk she orchestrates her guidance appropriate moments. A great wise and feisty character.

When the fire is fuelled by the dry storm, tragedy is all around them, even though this is something that is already known to them in conditions they have battled before, it is no less shocking when death claims lives. My excitement mounted with the fire racing towards the towns 10 year old Danny goes missing and with his mother needed at the infirmary with the casualties she fears the worst.

Just look at this wonderful line – got me right…here (places hand against heart):

And, as she stood there, the silence enfolded her as a long-held dreams shattered like fine glass.

What is different about this book?

This could have been just a run of the mill story about Australians trying to recover after the second world war in the outback, keeping their people and towns alive and thriving in harsh conditions in Queensland. But no, the real backbone to this story is of a man travelling on foot in solitude and secret towards Morgan’s Reach. All we know about him is that he is dying from cancer and that he wants to get to the town before the end, but does not want to be seen. He certainly is a mystery. His story is heart wrenching and I got a sense of a ‘kind of driven peace’ that surrounds this man in his final journey. His talks with a small boy and the peace he gains from it made me cry.

If you want a book with love, sorrow, courage, tragedy, and overcoming adversity, along with something beautifully spiritual then this is the book for you.

This is the first of Tamara McKinley’s books I have read and will be certainly looking out for her other books.

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Many thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review

  • Kindle Edition, 336 pages
  • Published:   December 24th 2013 by (first published 2012)
  • Publisher:  Quercus 
  • ASIN B00GGGRKI2

The 100 | Kass Morgan ✭✭

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☕️☕️  IT WAS OK.

How was it?    Okay but underwhelming, yes, I was disappointed.

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Synopsis

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – againThe 100 – by Kass Morgan

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My Review

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I watched the TV series which just got better and better so when I saw the book I just had to get my hands on it.

So, I then thought the trick to reading this book is to forget about the TV series and read the book as if I have never heard of the story. A better plan because there appeared so many differences in the book which you can’t help but compare whilst reading.

Start again….. What was the book about in a nutshell. 100 young adult criminals under 18 were sent back to earth to see it was habitable again after nuclear contamination.  The different areas they came from onboard meant that there was already a class hierarchy. Faintly reminiscence of Lord of Flies, ensued with such unruly reprobates. Most of the book was learning about the main protagonists; their crime, circumstances, and friends.

The bits I liked about the book?

I love this genre so much, and enjoyed the background setting that Morgan painted in a way that so plausible. (Or was I thinking about what I had watched on TV?) I liked the characters with a great mix of emotional confusion with Wells and Clarke/Bellamy, typical YA behaviour told with each POV.

I enjoyed how the characters remained so plausible, with young adults complete with their inexperiences and angsts trying to be responsible though a rage of hormones. Morgan also gets the moral thoughts racing; No, how could they do that! Were their deaths necessary? But what if they didn’t – how do you choose?  Who are the real criminals here?  So much to question after you put the book down.

I liked the hierarchy of the classes having an impact on their perception of each other, especially the way life became expendable for the greater good the lower class you were. Nicely done.

What didn’t work for me?

I didn’t like the way the POV was told in a block of flashback in each of the characters chapter. It felt very disjointed and almost like the real story was the flashback parts, and the current-day was a fill-in waiting for things to get more excitingly active towards the end.  I would have preferred for the story to have started with everyones story, the excitement building slowly towards being back on earth when their fearful adventure begins.

Had I not seen this fantastically imaginative story on TV I probably would have felt it to be a very slow book that cheated me out of the excitement I craved and possibly would have given up reading half way through. I believe I filled out gaps with my imagination from watching it earlier.

Overall, it’s an okay book but lacks any true excitement or goal. I understand this book was written after the series – sorry just didn’t work!

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 409 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • ISBN: 0316234478
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (29 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BJ5AE24

Available from Amazon, Book Depository and other online stores.