The Hunger Games V Divergent…Looking Back.

First of all before we continue please note: If you have not yet completed either of these trilogies and are intending to, then DO NOT READ. MAJOR SPOILERS. This is not an article I could write without such a thing. This is a fairly simplistic comparison incidentally, don’t expect deep and meaningful commentary on, well, anything. This is purely me enjoying myself.

 

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So, two of my favourite YA Dystopian trilogies. Both of which had endings that divided opinion. Both of which are highly popular, being made into movies, have rabid fans and give great reading experiences. I loved both – despite not being fond of one ending and thinking the other perfect, I could not pick between them. So lets take a look.

For Book One I’m considering our protagonists. Katniss in The Hunger Games and Tris in Divergent.

They are both equally compelling – Katniss risks it all to save her sister from the horror of the games and Tris leaves behind everything she has ever known in order to try and find herself. Both find themselves in a fight for survival. Both adapt, learn, make friends, make enemies, suffer tragedy and loss and do so in a very readable manner. Both of these kept me up late…

At this point Katniss was my favourite. Perhaps because she suffered more here (I mean who DIDNT cry at the death of Rue and her reaction to it) and at the end was left with a fierce determination, and a hardened heart. By the end of book One Tris was less affected (in my reading mind) and still had a way to go before events overtook her in a way that made me truly worry for her soul.

As far as story goes you have two terrific premises executed brilliantly. There is no way I could say that Suzanne Collins or Veronica Roth have the edge there. The only edge I can give is that I would not like to be anywhere near the world of the Hunger Games but I kind of liked the idea of becoming Dauntless….

 

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And onwards to part two, here I’m going to consider that very difficult thing – the “middle” book. Hard to get right one imagines, you have to walk the line between keeping up the standard, quality and readability of Part One, whilst making sure people want to read part 3 and growing your characters in a realistic and compelling way. Not easy. Not easy at all!

Here I definitely gave one of the books an edge – for me personally, Insurgent wins this round. Because of the “set up” and the character development.

Suzanne Collins opted for pretty much doing the same thing again – back to the Games, even with a little twist, felt way too much “been there done that” for this reader. Still the writing was superb and I was still right there – and this is the book where I picked the guy I was going to root for out of the two choices Katniss had – Yes. I went with Gale. Who did you go for?

Insurgent however, I felt, moved the story along in a much more engaging and fascinating manner. Tris evolved and you started to understand her, know what choices she was going to make and why. Her relationship with “Four” moved in a realistic way (I was still unsure whether I liked him much or not)  and the division amongst the factions was superbly written and highly addictive. Then, at the end, when Ms Roth gave us a teaser of why the factions ever came into being and what “Divergent” might actually mean in real terms I was hooked. I was ready. Ready for Allegiant….and to find out what exactly was outside the fence…

 

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And here we are. Down to the wire folks! In the divided opinion stakes here is mine…you can take it or leave it – if you think I’m insane you may well be right so I won’t hold it against you! And if you differ from me utterly and completely then thats GREAT! Both these authors have given us things to debate. To discuss. To argue and get het up over. Who can ask for more. And this is YA fiction? Astounding….Here we go.

MockingJay wins the day for me. Hands down, no prevarication, absolutely and completely. Upon reading the last few words of Mockingjay I lay down and cried. And cried. Walked round in a daze for a few hours, totally bereft. Absolutely inconsolable that there would be no more. Because…..Nope, lets talk Allegiant first.

Upon reading the last few words of Allegiant I threw it down, shrugged my shoulders, metaphorically said “meh” and carried on with my day. Only later did I even bother to consider over much why I felt that way. And this is why. For a start, the promise of the end of Insurgent was not acted upon for me. A rather generic “its in the genes” explanation just did not cut it. Tris will save the world because she has perfect genes? This reviewer said it best for me and I can’t say it better. So have a read. Then prepare for a rant from me….and a COMPLETE SPOILER FOR BOTH

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/504738977

Then Veronica Roth killed Tris. In a move that was probably meant to be dramatic, mind blowing and make you cry she did something that had been blatantly obvious to me from the very first moment I read the dual POV’s in Allegiant (and honestly could “Four” GET any more whiny whingey and woe is me?) I knew that we would need someone other than Tris to take us to the final denouement otherwise why make such a huge change to a method of writing that had worked so well up until now. And for me she did it in rather a blase fashion – Everything Tris had learnt and evolved into up until now seemingly having taught her nothing. She kind of gave up. Now I’m not saying that killing Tris was completely the wrong way to go…if done right it would have been a STUNNING conclusion. But for me it fell flat. She survived everything including the thing that kills everyone else, yet even with her totally awesome kick ass weapons and fighting skills she was taken down by a desk jockey in a wheelchair. I mean what? Really? Yeah ok then…

Plus “Four” didnt really grieve. Or do anything much for the whole novel apart from moan about stuff and get in the way.  And previously he had been so cool. Strong. Certain most of the time…Yes sorry. No good. NO GOOD! Sigh. Ah well…..

So MockingJay. Yes. Loved it. I can see why people didnt (and indeed why people DID love Allegiant) but I LOVED it. Because from the start EVERYTHING Katniss did came from a place of wanting to protect her Sister. And yet Primrose dies anyway. My heart broke. It broke for Katniss. It broke for Primrose and the fact that she would not get to live in the brave new world Katniss had fought so hard for. It broke. Thinking about it again now it still brings a tear to my eye. And Katniss at the end. So broken, so bereft, so sad yet still standing strong. Perfect end for me. PERFECT.

So. Both novels peppered with amazing characters, in very different settings, within worlds we cannot imagine. Two strong female protagonists who  you get behind, love, hate, root for, adore….Terrific writing from both authors. For me one fell at the final hurdle but…..

I would not dismiss the “Divergent” trilogy as unworthy in any way. Because we ALL read differently. I would recommend both trilogies as highly as each other – because how you feel about the endings will very much depend on how you have read the books, and how the characters have solidified in your mind.  There is no “wrong”. Both Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth gave us their vision – how we interpret it? Thats up to us. Each individual reader will have an individual opinion. The above article was mine.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Stuart MacBride – True Grit in Crime Fiction.

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So, having a book blog is great, but sometimes you forget why you started one in the first place – Over the years I have read some terrific crime fiction of which Mr Macbride has been a huge part and yet, so far, I have not waxed lyrical about how much I enjoy them. So here we go.

I shall tell you about the Logan McRae series and for an overview lets look at the first, followed by my favourite, followed by the most recent. And hopefully if you have not yet  experienced these, this will inspire you to do so.

 

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DS Logan McRae and the police in Aberdeen hunt a child killer who stalks the frozen streets. Winter in Aberdeen: murder, mayhem and terrible weather!

It’s DS Logan McRae’s first day back on the job after a year off on the sick, and it couldn’t get much worse. Four-year-old David Reid’s body is discovered in a ditch, strangled, mutilated and a long time dead. And he’s only the first. There’s a serial killer stalking the Granite City and the local media are baying for blood.

So if you go back in time a few years, to 2007 (yes I was a bit late to the party) you would find me wandering aimlessly around my local bookshop wondering what to pick up. I came across Cold Granite, read the blurb and thought – ok I’ll give this a try. Well thank heavens for that. Mr Macbride writes with wit and dark humour, places you so firmly in the setting (Aberdeen) that even if you have never been there you will feel you know it well and gives us Logan McRae – recovering from sick leave and thrust into the heart of an emotional investigation.

I laughed as much as I cried, and Logan quickly became one of those characters you long to meet in real life – cautiously optimistic, always in some sort of trouble, full of heart and soul and often annoying in a whimsical fashion that makes you sigh.

The story is all consuming, a side story gives you a taste of things to come as far as the development of Logan’s character goes, the supporting cast are all so realistic that they jump off the page and once you are there, trust me you won’t be leaving anytime soon. I still havent left the party – I hope it continues for a long long time.

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The city is in a state of fear. Some 20 years ago, the Grampian police nailed a particularly vicious serial killer known as The Flesher, a monster who had claimed victims throughout the country. But one of those frequent legal appeals which so often release dangerous criminals into the community has freed him, and when a container with human body parts appears at Aberdeen harbour, it looks like the stage is once again set for carnage on a massive scale.

Ok, lets fast forward a bit to Book 4. I’m listing this as my favourite – but perhaps I should say its the one that stays with me still rather than necessarily being favourite – readers will know what I mean. The subject matter being highly disturbing, the pace of this one being frenetic and all engrossing, Logan facing some rather horrible consequences and the sheer terror that forms in your heart while reading, makes it still for me, one of the best Logan McRae novels so far. But thats not to say there were not great things to come…

 

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The first body is chained to a stake: strangled, and stabbed, with a burning tyre around its neck. But is this a gangland execution or something much darker?

Someone’s leaving little knots of bones outside Detective Inspector Logan McRae’s house, but he’s got more pressing things to worry about. Rival drug gangs are fighting over product and territory; two teenage lovers are missing; someone’s crippling Asian immigrants; and Logan’s been lumbered with an ambitious new Detective Sergeant, a mountain of paperwork, and the unwelcome attention of his superiors and the local crime boss.

 

The latest Logan McRae is one I can’t say too much about – Logan’s backstory and the things that have happened to him and his fellow characters over the course of the novels plays quite a big part in the side story here and I would not spoil it for you for all the chocolate in the world (well, ok, if you offer me ALL the chocolate in the world I might whisper in your ear…but only you mind)

Suffice to say once more, the criminal investigation is intelligent and compelling, Logan as always faces himself as much as he does the criminals he is chasing and by the end of this one I was in tears. Yes actual tears. Mr MacBride may represent true grit in crime fiction but you could also say he manages time and time again to pull of the true heart of crime fiction – where you genuinely and emotionally care for and adore the characters to the point where what happens to them happens to you. I was bereft. And I really cannot wait to find out where Logan goes from here…

In the meantime though – somewhere in there Mr MacBride also gave us this.

 

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Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret…Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: home-made, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front – Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last.

The tabloids call him ‘The Birthday Boy’. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his home-made cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death.

But Ash hasn’t told anyone about Rebecca’s birthday cards – they all think she’s just run away from home – because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s killer gets what he deserves…

 

If Logan McRae is a character you love to love, Ash Henderson is a character you love to hate…or love…or possibly both. I still have not made up my mind. This was a fantabulous story with a very dark heart  – and I’m still undecided whether its Mr Hendersons heart that made it dark or the killers…either way I read this one in a single sitting, heading into the early hours of the morning with matchsticks propping my eyes open as there was no way I was sleeping until I was done. Then of course I wasnt sleeping at all – this one has one of those terrific endings that undo you and that keeps invading your mind during the most inappropriate times as you are trying to decide in your head whether it was what you wanted or not…yes I’m being enigmatic. Read it and see for yourself!

Now, I thought we would not see Ash again but apparently and in a move that makes this reader an EXTREMELY happy bunny, Mr MacBride’s up and coming novel “A Song For the Dying” see’s him making a return appearance. And never have I been more pleased – I think. We’ll see – perhaps by the end of this one I will have an actual opinion on a character that is sure to divide reading opinion. Not many authors pull that one off. Stuart MacBride has…

Now I need bring my chronic impatience under control. Or perhaps attempt some bribery of my lovely friends Kate and Bob at Harper Collins for when and if some review copies become available – Are you reading this Kate and Bob? Oooh I’m blatant!

 

Find out more here: http://www.stuartmacbride.com/index.php

Follow Stuart MacBride on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/StuartMacBride

Purchase Information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stuart-MacBride/e/B0045AAF7E/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Next Week to Liz Loves Books.

Well the weekend is upon us and now things have settled somewhat  I can get back to blogging properly and letting people know what I will be blathering about.

So what shall I do next week? Well some things I’ve wanted to do for a while for a start. Here is what is coming.

 

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Well on Monday you will be able to find a “Liz Currently Loves” post all about the latest January David novel from the rather lovely Will Carver which will be released later this month. I have been avidly reading it for the last couple of days and will be finishing it later tonight whilst eating a ton of chocolate…and I have been once again deeply immersed in the weird and wonderful world of January et al and for me its been the best yet! More on that Monday.

 

 

 

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So excited was I today to see the cover for the new novel from Mr MacBride that is due to hit the shelves in January – namely “A Song For The Dying” –  then even more excited to discover that our protagonist from “Birthdays of the Dead” Ash Henderson was to make another appearance – that I decided it was high time I did an article on all things MacBride. So that is Tuesday for you. Logan Mcrae being one of my favourite literary policemen, I shall wax lyrical about how much I enjoy these books. Even though they have a dark side…but then who DOESNT love a dark side!

 

 

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On Wednesday I shall be doing a post named “The Hunger Games v Divergent”. Two of my favourite YA trilogies, both with endings that divided opinion, I shall discuss, divulge my feelings, and generally blather about how much more interesting it is when you can argue the point about an ending/plot detail with other readers rather than having a “please everyone” ending. They often fall flat!  Please be aware this post will contain MAJOR SPOILERS as this is not an article I can write unless I can talk about plot details and give away the final twists. So avoid Liz Loves Books on Wednesday if you have not yet read these and intend to.

 

 

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On Thursday as a follow on from that article I will be talking about Young Adult Fiction in general, telling you some of my favourite examples of the genre and looking at the recent explosion onto the scene of such novels – and how much they are loved by both young adults and old adults alike!

 

 

 

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On Friday I will finally be reviewing the latest in the Lynley series from Elizabeth George – oh I adore these books – and talking about the series as a whole. The excellent, the good, the bad and the occasionally ugly. There will be minor spoilers from the earlier books, however I will mark them clearly so that you can ignore those bits if they are about one of the Lynley’s you have not yet read.

 

Happy Weekend 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.

 

Happy Halloween……some spoooooooooooky reads anyone?

So Thursday its Halloween. Love it or hate it (and having young children means I kind of have to love it) it would seem like the perfect week to read some creepy tales…so here are a few of my favourites for your perusal…and hey, if you have a particular favourite then shout. My Halloween Read is “SnowBlind” by Christopher Golden, coming soon. I shall review that one in due course…for now though how about these?

 

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Well of course I WOULD start with a Stephen King novel. Hands up anyone who wasnt expecting that? No-one? I am WAY too predictable…

Anyway my King pick for Halloween is “Geralds Game” because of all his books this was the one that haunted my dreams for the longest time after finishing it. Ok, its not his most horror bound novel, but its creepy. And unpredictable. And surprising. And next on my King Re-Read list now….

Synopsis

On a warm October day, Jessie Burlingame lies in the bedroom of her secluded lake home, listening to the far-off sounds of the country; the cry of a loon, the growl of a chain saw, the bark of a lonesome dog. Nearer, she hears the banging of the screen door, left unlatched in the autumn breeze; nearer still, the click of the key locking the second pair of handcuffs that chain her to the bed.

Gerald Burlingame, her husband of 17 years, looms over her, grin on his face, gleam in his eye, lust in his heart. This is Gerald’s favorite game little kinky, perhaps, but all in good fun. And then, quite suddenly, the fun is over. Gerald’s heart fails him in the heat of passion, leaving Jessie hideously trapped and dreadfully alone. As darkness gathers in the room that is now Jessie’s whole world, she must face not only the terror of never escaping, but the most excruciating truths about her life: the murky secrets that brought her here in the first place.

 

Happy Shivers Folks!

 

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Next up I’m going with one from that most amazing of writers, Mr John Connolly. His ability to blend superb crime fiction and compelling supernatural elements make the Charlie Parker series of novels a must read. This is not the first…but it IS the one that still stays with me when it comes to remembering those books that have made me sleep with the lights on..Axe Proof Duvet standing between me and the dark..Brilliant stuff. Evocative, addictive and with one of the most fascinating concepts out there, the whole series is unmissable.

Synopsis

Charlie Parker races to unravel a brutal crime committed in the Deep South. After years of suffering unfathomable pain and guilt over the murders of his wife and daughter, private detective Charlie Parker has finally found some measure of peace. As he and his lover, Rachel, are awaiting the birth of their first child and settling into an old farmhouse in rural Maine, Parker has found the kind of solace often lost to those who have been touched by true evil.

But darkness soon descends when Parker gets a call from Elliot Norton, an old friend from his days as a detective with the NYPD. Now practicing law in Charleston, South Carolina, Elliot is defending a young black man accused of raping and killing his white girlfriend, the daughter of a powerful Southern millionaire. Reluctantly, Parker agrees to help Elliot and by doing so ventures into a living nightmare, a bloody dreamscape haunted by the specter of a hooded woman and a black car waiting for a passenger who never arrives. Beginning as an investigation into a young woman’s death, it is a fast-moving descent into an abyss where forces conspire to destroy all that Parker holds dear.

 

Happy Hiding Folks!

 

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Ah Mr White. Crime Fiction. Not the first thought perhaps when it comes to horrific Halloween reads but the point is to make you shake in your boots…and I’m choosing this one because of the sheer horror that faces Sarah Goode. And the fact that this one not only made me cry, great big fat tears, but also horrified me in ways that I can’t even explain. You will just have to read it. Keep the tissues handy. And possibly some motion sickness medication….

Synopsis

What do you see in your dying moments…? A young woman is on the run, her boyfriend found brutally slain in their bed. A simple crime of passion. Or is it?

The Lancashire town of Blackley has been rocked by the violent death of Luke Howarth. The fingers of suspicion point towards his girlfriend, Sarah Goode – missing since his murder. Just another crime of passion with a tragic end.

Or is it? Reporter Jack Garrett isn’t so sure – especially when he’s asked by Sarah’s distraught parents to find their daughter. Their description of caring schoolteacher Sarah doesn’t tally with the media’s portrayal of a cold-blooded killer.

But as he hunts for Sarah, Jack finds himself immersed in the town’s troubled history and discovers that dangerous rituals from the past are impacting on the present.

Happy Hiding Folks!

 

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So, how about a ghost story to finish us off completely. Well, you might want to dive into Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I read this one caffeine fuelled dark and stormy night and it scared me, intrigued me, made me pace up and down and finally let me go heart pounding and drained. Perfect Halloween Reading and one of my favourite books of that year. Don’t miss this one!

 

Synopsis

‘Buy my stepfather’s ghost’ read the e-mail.

So Jude did.

He bought it, in the shape of the dead man’s suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock.

But the rest of his collection doesn’t make the house feel cold. The bones don’t make the dogs bark; the movie doesn’t make Jude feel as if he’s being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life . . .

 

Happy Frights Folks!

 

So thats your lot. What are you reading for Halloween? Do tell. And watch out for those restless spirits…..

 

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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!

 

Liz Currently Loves…The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas.

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So, when Stephanie Elmas contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing her book, I was immediately intrigued – both by the concept and by the fact that it was truly a labour of love for her, having taken 7 years to write, inbetween real life stuff such as family and work. I have spent the last few days reading it – inbetween real life stuff such as family and work! And here is what I thought.

 

Synopsis

When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?

 

Set in two timelines, with Serena beginning her employment with the Hartreve family and the relationship developing between her and the enigmatic Sebastian, we also head back to 1892 and meet Miranda Whitehouse, struggling in her marriage and forever under the watchful eye of her sister Jane. When she gets involved with the reclusive and mysterious Lucinda who lives next door, nothing will be the same again…

I love a novel that gives you true atmosphere and this one does just that… a beautifully descriptive writing style and classic tension building are key here and Stephanie Elmas pulls it off perfectly. The early part of the novel rambles gently but compellingly along but as things develop a much darker side appears – and from then on its a breathtaking rush to the final denouement.  I wasnt expecting it to be that favourite thing of mine – a wonderfully twisty tale – but it was. The strong supernatural elements hit the mark and all in all this was a delightful surprise of a read.

Characterisation is terrific, I adored Miranda, she was perhaps my favourite but I have to give a nod to Walter Balanchine with his weird and wonderful style, a truly terrific creation indeed. As the strands of the separate stories are pulled together, I was pleased that this was an ebook, I’m fairly sure if it had been a physical book I would currently be suffering paper cuts from my eagerness to turn the pages. I loved it.

You will notice that plot details are rather lacking in this review – there is a reason for that – the absolute joy of this novel for me was that it wasnt quite what I was expecting, but what it turned out to be was captivating and delectable.

 

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

Follow Stephanie on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/StephanieElmas

Purchase Information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Room-Beyond-ebook/dp/B00FJ433QK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382606481&sr=1-1&keywords=the+room+beyond

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Meet Jane Cable…Author of “The Cheesemakers House

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So I was recently lucky enough to get to read a lovely little ghost story from Jane Cable called “The CheeseMaker’s House” – review to follow – and I caught up with Jane and asked her a few questions. Here is what she had to say.

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the background to the story and the house that inspired it?

 


The Cheesemaker’s House is in the beautiful North Yorkshire village of Great Fencote and when my husband and I bought it in 2007 we had every intention of moving there but for various reasons it didn’t happen. The previous owners gave me a lot of paperwork to do with the history of the house and as well as having been built by a woman – the village cheesemaker – in 1726, I noticed how many women had owned it down the years. That started me wondering what sort of woman might move there now, and what might happen to her.

Both Alice’s voice and the beginnings of Owen’s character had been in my head for a while but in a completely different context. Taking them to Yorkshire seemed to make them gel, and when I read about charmers while I was researching rural life in the eighteenth century the story started to fall into place.

I related to Alice a lot, is she based on a real life person?

Some people who know me have said that when they read some of the things Alice says they can hear me saying them, but I guess that’s inevitable. The reality is that there isn’t a great deal of me in her – but she isn’t really anyone else either. I think there are parts of Alice that most women can relate to; her vulnerability; her spirit; the way she tries to make sense of her world. I hope so, anyway.

Do you have a favourite character from the novel?

Now that’s hard. As a writer I think you always have to fall just a little bit in love with your hero and whether or not there’s a little magic at work I can certainly see what Alice sees in Owen. On the whole, though, my favourite character is Alice. As the entire book is written from her point of view I had to get to know her really well and by the time I’d finished writing and editing it, she had almost become a friend.

I am very fond of the Alice the cheesemaker too. She has quite a back story, which is only partly revealed in the novel. She went through hell and high water with her passion hidden by a stoical acceptance of what had to be. She certainly deserved to be able to rest in peace.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

It isn’t a ghost story (although I have just started to write another one), but it is a suspenseful romance. It has the working title of The Fairy Tree and is inspired by an actual tree on the banks of the river Hamble near Southampton. In the book a couple meet again after twenty years to discover that memory is not quite what it seems. I’m currently going through the editing process myself – which I love – before handing it over to a professional editor who will doubtless tell me to re-write it.

Coffee, tea or something stronger?

All of the above. A skinny latte first thing in the morning – when I do most of my writing, decaff tea during the day and a glass of wine to unwind in the evening. A real treat is a mojito, made with mint from our garden.

Any writing habits?

I normally write first thing in the morning, because that’s when I’m at my best. I normally write at my desk. I like to have a skinny latte to hand (see above). But basically I can write any place or any time I feel like it or need to get on so I’m very lucky in that respect. It’s tiredness that’s the real killer; my brain just doesn’t want to work when I’m exhausted. But no real writing habits, no.

Desert Island Book?

Well I think I can have the bible anyway, can’t I? So the book I would choose would be an enormous blank one so that I always had something to write in. Although ‘101 Uses for a Coconut’ would probably be much more practical. Oh, and if I could swap the Complete Shakespeare for the Complete  Angler…

E-Reader or Physical book?
I’m in transition at the moment. My husband bought my an iPad for my birthday and I had always promised Madeleine Reiss, who I met through the Alan Titchmarsh Show competition, that her winning book Someone to Watch Over Me would be the first one I downloaded. I’m on my fourth or fifth e-book

 

Thank you so much Jane!

 

Review

 

When Alice Hart’s husband runs off with his secretary, she runs off with his dog to lick her wounds in a North Yorkshire village. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including the drop-dead gorgeous builder Richard Wainwright and the kindly yet reticent cafe owner, Owen Maltby. All is not what it seems however. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from?

 

I was very much looking forward to this one – having not read a good “ghost” story for a while,this seemed like the perfect remedy. And it was…

As we start following Alice on her journey, I was immediately involved…it probably helped that Alice is a lot like me at her heart – not sure where life is going to take her, suffering the loss (albeit not death) of her Husband and just trying to find her way. Enter the roguish Richard and the enigmatic Owen, throw in some strange occurrences with a hint of history and you have a great mix for a great story.

Slowly drawing you in, at times you may wonder if Alice is a bit barmy (again I relate as I often wonder that about myself!) as she starts to see Owen all over the place when he is not actually there…and her nights are often filled with a strange “crying” sound that she cannot track down. Spooky, yes. And beautifully written so you are right there with her..

As she delves further into village life and discovers more about those around her, so the true story emerges…and its a compelling one. Apart from that I will not say…but if you like a good ghostly tale you will certainly enjoy it.

Some great characters in here -Alice of course, I also particularly loved Adam and trust me, you will want some of his baked goods. In the background of the tale a distinct snapshot of life in a place where everyone knows everyone else and secrets are hard to keep..

All in all a terrific read and one to curl up under the duvet with and hope that you don’t start hearing strange noises in the night….

 

Find out more here: http://janecable.com/

Follow Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JaneCable

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cheesemakers-House-Jane-Cable/dp/1783061243/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382423753&sr=1-1&keywords=the+cheesemakers+house

 

Happy Reading Folks!

A bout of Insomnia…A reading Frenzy – Some new reviews for you.

Happy Weekend Folks! So I have suffered ye olde Insomnia again this week. Which as usual sent me on a mad reading rush….through the couple of rather long nights I chose some books to see me through and here they are…enjoyed. completed. reviewed. All books reviewed in this post were kindly sent to me by the authors concerned. Thank you to one and all. *Reviews can also be found in appropriate sections on site*

 

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Thriller

A Peace Corps volunteer has gone missing in Bulgaria and everyone assumes he is dead, everyone except his grandfather, who refuses to give up hope. Retired literature professor Simon Matthews launches a desperate search only to be lured into a bizarre quest to retrieve a stolen Thracian artifact—a unique object of immense value others will stop at nothing to recover.

I wasnt entirely sure what to expect when I started this one – its true that I would not have chosen it for myself, yet that would have been a shame. Told from various points of view, we open with Simon – beginning his journey to find out the truth about his missing Grandson – with the help of Sophia, a local History teacher he meets along the way.

I especially loved how Mr Shuman manages to give us a lot of background and information on the culture of Bulgaria, a country I know little about, by weaving it effortlessly into the flow of the story – in a way this is part travel guide and it works very well to put you in the moment.

The mystery element is well imagined and as the story twists and turns towards its ultimate conclusion you will find adventure, thrills and intrigue here. Wonderful writing style makes it easy to read with a mix of fast paced plot and more sedate meandering that keeps you involved until the end.

It did take me a while to “sink in” to the tale – but once I was there, there I stayed. Enjoyable mystery thriller, great characters and very well written.

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Horror/Mystery

Fall, 1995.

Holson is a sleepy, middle-class suburb, whose most interesting news amounts to farmer’s markets and Friday night football games.

When young Brandon Grey disappears, no one thinks he’ll be missing for long. When another boy vanishes, parents begin to worry about their children. When bodies turn up in the local river, cut to pieces, stuffed inside industrial-strength black trash bags, the town begins to shut down.

 

So, this one took me about 2 hours to read all in all, mainly because once I started I could not stop. Always a good sign…

We meet Jake and Colin, best friends, growing up in very different environments, spending endless hours together doing what kids do. One day, while playing outside, they notice a mysterious stranger taking pictures of them from the end of the street – and this sets off a chain of events that will take them on a strange and compelling journey….

I loved this – as much a “coming of age” story as anything else, Jake and Colin and those surrounding them are terrific characters to follow along with into some dark and chilling times. Forming a detective club they investigate the disappearance of Brandon Grey with nothing more than their wits and their bicycles…and what they find is horrifying and dangerous.

As the story twists and turns towards its chilling conclusion I was compelled to read on. I believe this is Mr Turkot’s first full length story, all I can say is I hope he writes more. I will certainly be reading them if this one is anything to go by. Easy to read and hard to put to one side, I very much enjoyed it.

 

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Fiction

 

London waitress, Pippa Taylor has no interest in horses or country-living. But when she inherits Peace Offering, a hopeless racehorse, she embarks on a career change in order to see her late uncle’s wish to run him in the Grand National come true.

 

Now funnily enough, apart from the obvious exception of Jilly Cooper I don’t usually read “horsey” books these days. This despite being a rider myself, who as a child used to indulge in quite a few childrens books with a horse theme – most specifically the Flambards trilogy. So when I was offered a chance to review this one I was immediately transported back to those days…

Of course this is a book for adults – one that takes us into the world of Horse Racing and all that entails, and I enjoyed it very much. Our protagonist, Pippa, is thrust into this world, one she initally has no interest in, and as we follow her along the way its a lot of fun.

You have some romance, some intrigue, all set in a wonderfully colourful world with well drawn characters and an entertaining and lively story.

One possible drawback is the occasional over use of bad language – if that sort of thing bothers you then take that into account before diving into this one..however it did not detract from a great little story for me. I will certainly be reading on.

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YA

Jed’s dead. These are the words that transform’s Cecelia Rivermire’s quiet life into a manhunt. A manhunt to kill the man that murdered her only friend. A manhunt to kill the man that murdered her first love. In this quest for revenge, however, she’ll soon discover that everything she’s ever known has been a lie, including everything she thinks she knows about herself…

So we meet Cecilia, who loses her best friend and first love and sets out on a quest for revenge that may not go entirely to plan…now a General we see in flashback what has led her here, and when her Emporer turns on her the adventure really begins.

I really enjoyed this it has to be said. Cecilia is a top notch character and the world building is well done. As she discovers that things are not entirely as she thought in the world she lives in, the story is fast paced and intriguing – set to be a trilogy this is a great “Part One” and will certainly ensure you want to read onwards…

Some great “supporting” characters (Brey. Loved Brey!) flesh out the story and there are some great twists and turns along the way, with an ending that will make you sigh (in a good way) and long for chapter two…

Well written, some flaws but that is to be expected, and fascinating enough to keep you hooked until the last page, I am pleased to be in at the start of this one. In the explosion of YA to the reading world this is an excellent example of its kind and I shall look forward to more. Recommended for YA fans, especially if you like action, a bit of romance and some likeable AND unlikeable characters to meet along the way.

 

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So there you have it folks. My recent reads! Hope there is one there that takes your fancy. Now I’m onto the next batch. What am I reading now? Well. Gregg Hurwitz, Richard Montanari and Natalie Richards are the authors that make up my weekend reading. And of course I still need to review the latest Lynley book…which I loved. LOVED.

 

Happy Reading Folks!