Liz Currently Loves…The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley.

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Coming January from Macmillan – Tor Forge.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance copy via netgalley.

When the emperor of Annur is murdered, his children must fight to uncover the conspiracy—and the ancient enemy—that effected his death.

Now I don’t usually do fantasy novels/sci fi novels unless they are of the Urban or YA variety, but my good (online) friend Cory raved about this one SO much that I just could not resist taking a look. Well there are good decisions then there are GREAT decisions, this one turned out to be a great one because it was fantastic.

Right from the start I was TOTALLY absorbed in this world that Mr Staveley has created here – with its rich landscape and extraordinarily well drawn characters, all of them compelling and intriguing. The story is beautifully complicated yet well flowing and intelligent, an absolute page turner of the highest order.

The author deftly weaves several layers of plot, creating a world of intrigue and betrayal then pulls it all together as we head for a terrific conclusion.

I do like a clever book as anyone that follows my reviews knows – when you have a story that is  both sophisticated and challenging, yet immensely readable then you know you are onto a good thing. This is a good thing!

I could probably go on for hours. And hours. But a delightful experience awaits you should you choose to pick up this particular novel and therefore I shall not spoil a single moment. I knew nothing going in bar the fact that one of my friends enjoyed it so much that she went into Rabid Fangirl Mode. Which trust me, she doesnt do often. I’m currently considering switching to that mode myself….

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Killer Inside by Will Carver – more short story art.

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A wonderful little “Bridging” tale between Will Carver’s earlier novels (Girl 4 and The Two) and his latest book in the January David series “Dead Set” I was slightly late to the party – in that I read this today, rather than before I read Dead Set. I’m actually pleased I did it that way around as it gave it quite a fun edge. As long as you are familiar with the authors work, it will be just as good either way to my mind.

So we have Eames plotting and scheming, interspersed with January doing his thing – I loved the little portions about the letters Eames received and his true feelings about them – and having prior knowledge of what was coming made it all the more entertaining for me.

If it has been a while since you read the previous two novels this is perfect to get you back in the Eames v January v Audrey frame of mind and dive straight back into the weird and wonderful world Mr Carver has created. If you have already read “Dead Set” and did not realise this story was available, then fear not – you will enjoy it in a completely different way!

Short but sweet, JUST as delicious as the chocolate pudding I consumed whilst I read it, it comes highly recommended from me, along with all of Will Carver’s other books. Especially if you like your crime with a twist and if you love a writer who writes outside the box.

Get your copy here: It won’t cost you a penny! http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Killer-Inside-Will-Carver-ebook/dp/B00FM12Q90/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…..Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.

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It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous.

This book is an interesting one to be sure…having read some mixed reviews I was very intrigued to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

As you know I do love a clever book and this one was – on the surface, a simple story of vapid teenagers with more money than sense, partying hard until tragedy strikes and throws them all into turmoil..but underneath the glossy surface is a multi layered tale of love, betrayal and murder with a psychological twist.

Told from Anna’s point of view, covering the events leading up to the death of her best friend Elise and the aftermath, the story unfolding is compelling and addictive – not least because of the characters themselves. Abigail Haas has given them all a psychological depth not often found in teen fiction and has woven a cautionary tale into the narrative about the intensity and hidden facets of the relationships we form and the obsessive nature of such things. Throw into the mix drugs, drink and secrets and its not surprising really that things go horribly wrong.

Inspiration has very obviously been taken from real life events, several of them, and this works very well because you kind of think you know the story – it lifts the reading experience into an almost “documentary” style feel, as if this is, in fact, a true tale. As Anna fights to prove her innocence in the face of almost impossible odds you will be clinging on by the fingernails with her – as she says ” Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?

Well yes, we would. The most mundane actions can seem sinister when looked at from a place of suspicion, another thing that the author has managed to convey superbly.  Along with a one track mindset from the police and the media turning the crime into a movie for the masses its a wonder that any justice system ever works…what Abigail Haas has done is made me wonder how many guilty,  OR innocent for that matter, verdicts we hear about in the real world headlines are actually indicative of what actually happened.

So yes, this is a mystery story aimed at the YA audience, with some very adult themes at its heart and is superbly written and laid out. The solution is right there in front of you folks, whether you see it coming or not, the experience of getting there will be worth it.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Siege: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj

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Thank you to Catherine at Penguin for tracking down a copy of this book for me.

So, recently I decided to expand my reading yet again by starting to read some more non-fiction  – something I’ve only dipped a toe into every now and again, much preferring fiction and all the adventures you can find there…

I started with Jamie Baywoods often hilarious account of how she settled into a new home- Getting Rooted in New Zealand – and then moved onto a “self help” book for those suffering a loss “You can Heal Your Heart” both of which gave me very different but equally rewarding reading experiences. I then put out a plea amongst friends as to what I should try next – The Siege, by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott Clark, telling the story of the 2008 takeover of the Taj in Mumbai by Islamic terrorists seemed to be a popular choice – Read it they told me. Its fascinating, horrifying and compelling. So I did..and here is what I thought.

Synopsis

The Siege by Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott-Clark – a searing account of the 2005 terrorist attacks at Mumbai’s famous Taj Hotel.
On 26th November 2008 the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai is besieged by Pakistani Islamists, armed with explosives and machine guns.
For three days, guests and staff of the hotel are trapped as the terrorists run amok.
On 29th November commandos launch Operation Black Tornado. The world holds its breath.

The first thing that struck me was how well researched this book was. Starting with the “Dramatis personae” giving an overview of the people involved and a brief background, including guests, staff and the terrorists themselves, I was immediately right at the heart of the matter – I wanted to find out what happened to all of them. Leading on with a bit of background of the events leading up to the terror attacks, and some information on the hotel, you were left feeling slightly off kilter while you waited for what you knew was coming..

The second thing that struck me was how much this book read as if it was a Thriller – a fast paced one at that – I often had to stop for a moment and remind myself, especially in the more violent moments, that these people were REAL. Everything I was reading actually happened – it was a sobering thought and one that compelled me to read ever onwards. I read this in two days, such was my inability to leave it before I knew the outcome. I had zero knowledge of these events before opening this account – such is the beauty of the writing I now feel almost as if I were there – or at the very least had friends who were.

This is a soundbite in a way – a little of my own research tells me that there was a lot more to the terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008 quite apart from the events at the Taj – I feel that I absolutely want to know more. If anyone knows of any other books that tackle this subject well, I would be very interested to hear about them.

I’m not sure what else I can say really – I can’t speak to characterisation because these are not characters they are human beings who suffered at the hands of other human beings – that very fact makes this a must read. I would highly recommend that you give it a go.

At the end, I read every name in the “RIP” section and shed a tear for those people I had never known, and never WOULD have known even had they lived.

Highly Recommended.

 

 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Sometimes words are not enough.

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Arriving January people of earth. Form an orderly queue.

Thank you to the author and the publisher for the advance copy, although its also possible I want to throw shoes at you…

Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed….

So. Where to start. Well I could say the whole thing is brilliant (which it is) but that probably does not cover it. I could say its absolutely addictive (also true) but that would not cover it either. Sigh. And of course I do not REALLY want to say much about the story as this is an insane ride of total reading joy…so perhaps I’ll just give you a little snippet but mostly talk about the experience of it rather than the nitty gritty.

One thing I want to get out of the way is the inevitable comparison to The Hunger Games that will occur (and indeed is it seems in the marketing of it). Before I read “Red Rising” that series of novels was perhaps amongst the best example of a Dystopian read aimed at the Young Adult audience that I had come across. And “Dystopian” is where the comparison stops for me. Red Rising is The Hunger Games on acid, a wonderful, heartfelt, enslaving rollercoaster ride of a novel, filled with rich language, a world beyond imagination, peppered with astonishing fascinating characters and best of all a truly magnificent main protagonist. Yes, Young Adults will love it. Pensioners will love it for that matter. As will everyone in between if this is the type of story they go for. And if you don’t normally read this genre and are looking at me as if I’ve gone slightly insane..then get a copy, read it, and come back to me afterwards. I think you will be surprised..

So what about what me? Well,  while reading the following things happened. I laughed. I cried. I cheered and I held my breath. I often threw it down in agony only to pick it up again seconds later to read another chunk..after the halfway mark I only allowed myself a bit at a time because I knew that I would be bereft once I was done…and yet still it drew me back in at every spare moment. I KNEW this book was going to be trouble when I spilt my drink yesterday and yelled “BloodyDamn” at it. Other reviewers who have already had this reading experience will know THAT feeling. There is a whole new language here and I seem to have been affected by it…

True love. True Loss. Adventure. Pain. Pleasure. Good versus Evil, one young man against an army…true David v Goliath stuff. And oh gosh, this is only the start. In terms of this being “Part One” the set up is truly extraordinary. I really would sell my soul to the devil to read part two RIGHT NOW! So if the Devil exists and he is watching….

So I havent told you much have I? Well. I didnt know much going in and that was the beauty, the fun, the sheer exhilarating genius of it. I feel like quoting Stephen King now so I leave you with this.

Go Then…There are other worlds than these.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…..JellyBird by Lezanne Clannachan.

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Thank you kindly to Lezanne for saving me from certain Jail by sending me a copy of her book. And thanks to Bex for the recommendation.

‘I’m good at secrets,’ Libby says. Yes, thinks Jessica, I bet you are…

With her life unravelling, Jessica flees home to the seaside town where she grew up. The discovery of an old postcard among her childhood belongings sends Jessica in search of her first love, Thomas, ‘the ghost boy’ who disappeared one night seventeen years ago.

Jessica has escaped her somewhat unhappy childhood and is happily married – until Libby comes into her life. At first Jessica is pleased to have a new friend. But as she becomes suspicious of Libby’s motives, Jessica finds circumstances flinging her back into her past..and a mystery never fully explained.

This was a wonderfully evocative novel – a tale of childhood, how our experiences shape our adult self and most of all about perception…and how things can come into focus as we grow up and understand more – especially about the actions, or sometimes inactions of our parents.  Jessica takes a journey back into her childhood but seeing it with different eyes..in order to find out who she is and what she wants, she must understand who she was then….and find out once and for all the truth about what happened to Thomas.

This book did remind me, with its ambience, very much of one of my favourite Agatha Christie novels – Sleeping Murder. Very different tales, but both with childhood memories affecting an adult life and both with something dark lurking just below the surface. In Sleeping Murder of course, Miss Marple knows why that feeling influences Gwenda so deeply, in JellyBird Jessica is on her own..who can she trust when a lot of the time she does not even trust herself? And therein lies the beauty of this one – a sympathetic character who you are right behind even at the times you would like to kick her in the shin to get her to wake the heck up.

The mystery element is intelligent and creative – all is not as it appears. Ever. Right up to the end there is an element of suspicion about what actually occurred – even with hindsight not everything becomes clear (no, those of you who hate an open ended finish, that is not what I mean, the story is complete. However I certainly have one question for Ms Clannachan and I shall be tracking her down shortly to ask it) If you like an imaginative resolution I would say you will love this.

All in all a terrific read so thanks Bex for insisting I would love it – because you were oh so right!

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves….The City’s Son by Tom Pollock.

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Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen.

 

So, in my recent book buying spree,  one of the things I was specifically looking for was the next book in my quest for terrific Urban Fantasy – this one kept popping up and glaring at me so I took that as a sign that this was the one.

What a great choice that was. Phew. For this reader, there are two things that will ensure I love an Urban Fantasy tale – a world I want to see with my own two eyes and characters that I can fall in love with. The City’s Son had both of those things with bells on..

Beth is a graffiti artist, ignored by her grieving father and expelled from school after her best friend Pen caves to pressure, she is drifting..until an incident on the streets of London brings her into contact with Fil.  Son of a Goddess, Prince of London, he is about to be embroiled in a battle with the evil Reach, King of the Cranes, for his life and his City. And so Beth finds a new purpose…and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

The world Mr Pollock has created here is weird, wonderful and entirely beautiful. Oh I wanted to dance with Elektra and her sisters, interact with the Pavement Priests, offer the spiders my voice and fight the good fight…the entire time I was immersed in Fil’s London I was drowning in the rich, often horrific,  yet always entirely exotic surroundings.  A city that lives and breathes, filled with bizarre and breathtaking characters who will steal your heart and touch your soul.

This author does not write from a place of safety and that makes this even more compelling – If you want a cheery tale where everyone lives happily ever after then this may not be for you – emotionally speaking it can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. There is love and loss, sadness and joy, fear and bravery all within the pages – and the ending left me slightly tearful and overwrought in the best reading way possible.

Alluring and elegant writing, intelligent and dexterous world building and passionate characterisation make this a must read for any Urban Fantasy fan. Indeed for any fan of great storytelling.

I leave you with some quotes…

“Our memories are like a city: we tear some structures down, and we use rubble of the old to raise up new ones. Some memories are bright glass, blindingly beautiful when they catch the sun, but then there are the darker days, when they reflect only the crumbling walls of their derelict neighbours. Some memories are buried under years of patient construction; their echoing halls may never again be seen or walked down, but still they are the foundations for everything that stands above them.”

“Glas told me once that that’s what people are, mostly: memories, the memories in their own heads, and the memories of them in other people’s. And if memories are like a city, and we are our memories, then we are like cities too. I’ve always taken comfort in that.”

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…..Dead Set by Will Carver.

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Coming 21st November from Arrow.

Thank you to Will and the publisher for the review copy. Yay.

First things first. If you have not then READ GIRL 4 FIRST.  And The Two. And you should. If you havent. There may be spoilers ahead for the first two novels.

Here we go….

Detective Inspector January David doesn’t love me.

He loves his missing sister. He loves his job.

But he doesn’t love me. Not in the way he should.

I am his wife. I am still his wife.

And I will do anything for him.

No matter what I have to sacrifice.

So the third outing for January David, finds him coming to the end of the sabbatical enforced upon him after the events of “The Two”. Meanwhile a missing young girl is found dead, another murder victim begins to tell us her tale…and January will soon find himself caught up in the tangled web being weaved by our favourite psychotic killer once more…oh but which psychotic killer do you refer to I hear you ask? Well take your pick. The wonderfully drawn Eames or the enigmatic and dangerous Audrey David? Well, we will see…

What you get with this series of novels is Murder, Magic and Mayhem. A hint of the supernatural and a touch of fear. Or in my case a screaming case of the heebie jeebies. Every time. Every single time. Why? No idea – its all in the writing my friends.

Will Carver writes with a very quirky style – it is unique and very much his own. He uses multiple points of view to great effect – you hear from January, from Audrey, from Eames and from the victims, all interspersed with bridges from one to the other…a flowing and intelligent narrative that tells you everything you need to know whilst keeping it secret at the same time. Inventive  writing indeed. It won’t work for everyone – but if you love a story that takes you “outside the box” then this is perfect for you.

As I was drawn inexorably towards yet another brain bending conclusion (yes, you will not get molly coddled here folks) I was at turns terrified, absorbed, captivated and entertained – as usual a perfect combination. This is perhaps my favourite of the three – because now the mythology and mystery at the heart of these novels is ingrained. I’m right there. I know what to expect and yet I am always, always taken aback. Perhaps I should say I have learned to expect the unexpected…

I adore this series in the same way that I adore John Connolly’s “Charlie Parker” series – because they are surprising, delightful, downright scary and utterly fascinating. Kudos.

 

Find out more here: http://www.willcarver.net/www.willcarver.net/Author_Will_Carver___January_David_Novels.html

Follow Will on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/will_carver

Purchase Information clickety click : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Set-January-David-3/dp/0099551055/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383559778&sr=1-2

(Remember though – Girl 4 first!)

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I am distraught. And in awe.

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“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.”

11th October 1943: A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a shot at survival, the other has lost the game before its barely begun.

Now I’ve finished crying into my pillow, perhaps I can try and review this book. I’ll do my best – but its one of those. Sometimes there are no words. But hey, its what I do so here we go…

“Verity”, a female spy, has been captured during one of her missions. Tortured, threatened and scared for her life she agrees to confess – given two weeks and paper and pen, she begins her tale – one of friendship, loyalty, heroism and betrayal – and of Maddie, the pilot who flew her into France and who she believes is dead.

Oh how her story creeps into your heart, so subtly and gently that you don’t realise she is there until its too late then you have to read on, to that oh so heartbreaking yet uplifting and authentic finale that you can see coming at you like a freight train but cannot fathom until it hits you. Hard. Right in the gut. Fiction yes. How much of it could be real? Every single word….

Verity and Maddie shine like beacons against the dark and forbidding backdrop of a world at war – a tale of two halves if you like, this one stomped all over my soul and left me wrung out and over emotional – anyone who has read and loved “The Book Thief” will know exactly what I’m feeling right now. It hasnt let go yet. No not yet.

Still, to be pragmatic. This is one of those novels that you want to make everyone read. And yet it won’t be for everyone – no book ever is. It may be aimed at the young adult market but it reads just as well if you come at it from an entirely adult point of view, and it is extraordinarly well written and compelling. If you are looking for a fluffy, light, chic lit type of read where everyone lives happily ever after then please leave this alone – if you want a read that will tear your heart from your chest and leave it feebly beating on the floor then I would pick this one up right now.

Highly Recommended for anyone who likes Historical fiction, a book to make them cry, and a book to make them think. And for fans of well told stories everywhere…

Find out more here: http://www.elizabethwein.com/

You can follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EWein2412

Purchase Information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/Code-Name-Verity-Elizabeth-Wein/dp/1405258217/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383129177&sr=1-1&keywords=code+name+verity

 

Happy Reading Folks. Sob.

 

Liz Currently Loves….Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.

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So, Apple Tree Yard has been sat patiently waiting on my kindle while many people have told me to get on with it, its terrific, one of the best books of the year…and so I decided it was about time I gave it a go. Do I agree with all the hype? Well the title of the post probably gives it away….

 

Synopsis

Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, a scientist renowned in her field but one day, she makes the most irrational of decisions. While she is giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she meets a man and has sex with him in the secluded Chapel in the Crypt. It’s the beginning of a reckless liaison, but there is more to her lover than is at first apparent – as Yvonne discovers when the affair spins out of control and leads inexorably to violence.

 

Addictive. Totally and utterly addictive. Yvonne tells the tale…opening with a courtroom scene as she stands accused along with her lover of what, exactly, we are unsure of at that point and then takes us back to the beginning of it all and leads us to the truth of the matter.

Louise Doughty has an alluring writing style…Yvonne, as she tells us the story, is very dry and exacting – in some ways “Just the facts, Ma’am” but with an emotional core that is hard to fault. You will just keep reading…each part leading inexorably to the next while she digs herself deeper and deeper into an affair with a man of whom she knows nothing. She assumes, gives him depth and fleshes him out…but we all know what “assume” does, do we not?

In a lot of ways this is much more a character piece than it is a mystery – in that the mystery is unlocked by coming to know the character. Yvonne, her choices, her reasoning, her “excuses” if you like all add up to make a whole. The man she is embroiled with IS an enigma and seeing him only through her eyes makes him that way. We see him as she does…and as her eyes open so do ours.

Brilliantly done…clever, intriguing, utterly compelling, the story of how a normal, intelligent and pretty average woman gets caught up in infidelity and brutality, almost by accident. Highly recommended.

 

Happy Reading Folks!