The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

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Title: The Barefoot Queen
Author: Ildefonso Falcones
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 656 pages
Publication Details: November 25th 2014 by Crown
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

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It’s January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona’s-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever.

Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy’s struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it’s a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won.

From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with charaters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe

Review

When I requested this from Netgalley I’d been reading YA after YA and felt like I needed to get stuck in to a grown-up book to break the monotony, but by the time I got round to starting this 600+ page book, I wasn’t really in the mood to be honest. Therefore I’m not sure if my enjoyment of it – or lack of- is down to that, or something more.

The Barefoot Queen started so promising. I flew through the first hundred pages eager to find out what would become of Caridad, a former slave whose master died on the ship The Queen, which took her to Cadiz.

I thought the writing was beautiful and it started off at a good pace…but then I got lost. It didn’t take me long to realise that Falcones was going to throw in unnecessary details, backstories and cultural observations that added nothing to the story in my opinion. It just got too bogged down and I struggled to get through.

I really agonised over what to rate this book because there were parts of it I loved, and in essence it’s a great story that deserved to be told. It was just a slog. I felt sorry for Caridad who finds herself in Seville completely clueless as to what to do with herself after a lifetime of slavery. She needs to find work, but only knows how to labour on a plantation, and who’s going to hire a negro woman with no master?

When she meets gypsy, Milagros, the two discover just how dangerous it is to be a woman in 1700’s Spain.

Again, I wanted to like this book. It’s an epic tale of two women’s bravery and is clearly well researched. I just wish Falcones had pulled it back a bit, and not got so bogged down in detail. The pace was too slow for me…that’s what binge-reading YA books does to you.

Overall, I wouldn’t want to put people off this book as it’s an important and interesting story if you don’t mind a bit of a slog. It’s also extremely violent in parts, and you won’t come away from this book without a twinge of sadness and despair for these poor characters who really go through the ringer.

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The Barefoot Queen is available in hardback and paperback from Waterstones now.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014.

I was introduced to so many new authors this year so I really enjoyed making this list. Some were completely new with debut releases and some were authors I’d read so much about but only got round to this year.
All quotes are from my own reviews. Click on the links to read the full review if you so wish 🙂

10. B. I Woolet

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I’m so glad I requested The Hunter, The Bear and The Seventh Sister from Netgalley back in January as I absolutely loved it. I described it as ‘an amalgamation of all my favourite childhood reads’, and it really was. The second book in the series was released recently and I can’t wait to read it.

The authors, Benji & Ila Woolet also did a great guest post for me in February. Go check them out.

9. Laura McHugh

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The Weight of Blood is Laura McHugh’s debut novel and I was very impressed with this intricate small-town crime story.

‘Reading The Weight of Blood felt like sitting on a swing-chair on a porch in the sticky night-time heat with Dragonflies bashing against your lantern; kind of peaceful and beautiful but there’s this uncomfortable feeling rising to the surface, and you know where it’s coming from but if you just ignore it, it might go away. Obviously, it never goes away…’

She’s definitely one to watch.

8. Alan Bradley

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I don’t know how I hadn’t discovered Alan Bradley before 2014. I’d never heard of the Flavia de Luce series and I somehow requested The Dead in their Vaulted Arches without realising is was book 6. But it didn’t matter. I loved it! I really need to read the whole lot now! ‘Think Young Sherlock Holmes meets Veronica Mars and you’re there. I’m off to find the first 5 books now. Tally ho, jolly good show!’

7. Chris Beckett

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Dark Eden. Woah. What a book. I still think about it. A lot.

Dark Eden is a book full of questions and very little answers. It is set on what we assume is an alien planet (although it’s pretty similar to earth) where almost two hundred years ago, humans crash landed. Some attempted to get back to earth, while one man and one woman thought it was too dangerous and stayed behind, deciding to make a go of living in the blackness of Eden until they were rescued.”

6. Veronica Roth

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I LOVED Divergent so much, and thought this was going to be my new favourite series by my new favourite author, but then I kind of got over it. (Also Marissa Meyer happened but more on that later). Insurgent was good too, but then I’d heard so many bad things about the third book I never got round to it. I still plan on finishing it some day.

5. Chris Wooding

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So Chris Wooding completely passed me by until my friend gave me Poison to read recently. It was amazing. I still haven’t written a review but it was basically all of my favourite fairy tales, plus Alice in Wonderland and countless others, swirled together in a dark and sinister cauldron of awesomeness. I need to check out his other books!

4. Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

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I read two of her books this year and loved them both. Sarah has a sort of whimsical ‘twee’ story-telling style and I found them both unique, cute and exciting all at the same time.

‘Oh man, this was a rollarcoaster. Once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know how things had spiraled so out of control for Oscar and Meg. It really captured something special about being young, especially the perils of school days and friendship.’

3. Richelle Mead

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Yes I know. Completely behind the times, but I only started the Vampire Academy series this year. I was really pleasantly surprised by them and I hope to continue the series with book 4 soon!

2. Andrea Hannah

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I find it hard to express how much I loved Andrea Hannah’s debut Of Scars and Stardust.

It was such a surprise as I only requested it on the basis of liking the cover and the title. I want to read it again. And again!

Of Scars and Stardust completely blew me away if you can’t tell already. It was a mystery, a psychological thriller, a romance, and it was written so beautifully it made me want to cry.”

1. Marissa Meyer

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What can I say about Marissa Meyer…she blew everything else out of the park for me this year. At first I thought Cinder looked a little silly – Cinderella as a cyborg and set in a dystopian Beijing – What!? But I was so wrong. The Lunar Chronicles is definitely the best series I started this year, and possibly EVER. EVER I SAY.

I’m excited to see who you guys picked, feel free to leave a link!

November 2014 on Lipsyy Lost & Found

I can’t believe November has been and gone and December is flying by, like it always does! I didn’t even get round to doing an October round-up…fail!

November wasn’t the best month for me in real life terms. I lost my job, and started working in my friend’s pub to keep me going until I find something more substantial (it’s like going back in time 8 years – very odd!). Therefore my schedule has been all out of whack and with job hunting – gahhh, it’s taken its toll on my reading and blogging, but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I’m posting when I can!

Here’s what did happen on the blog in November though! I’ve included October reviews too.

Total Posts: 15
Books Read: 4

Reviews (Nov / Oct): 4 / 5

  • Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen, 3/5 (View)
  • Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, 4/5 (View)
  • Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill, 4/5 (View)
  • Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory, 3/5 (View)
  • Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair, 2/5 (View)
  • Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus & Julian Sedgwick, 5/5 (View)
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black, 3/5 (View)
  • Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner, 4/5 (View)
  • Needful Things by Stephen King, 3/5 (View)

Read But Not Yet Reviewed:
Poison by Chris Wooding
The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

The Breakdown

Most Surprising: Back to Blackbrick
Most Disappointing: Doll Bones
Most Exciting: Dark Satanic Mills
Most Swoon-worthy: Uhm none of them actually. How depressing.
Most Beautifully Written: Printer’s Devil Court

Genres: YA (4/9); Thriller/Mystery (2/9); Supernatural/Paranormal (3/9); Fantasy (2/9); Horror (4/9); Graphic Novel (1/9)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (3/9); Paperback (4/9); Hardback (2/9); Owned (4/9); Borrowed (2/9)

Friday Features:

These kind of fell by the wayside this month. Must try harder!

Guest Posts, Promos and Other Highlights:

    • The Goth Girl Series by Chris Riddell (View Post)
    • Horror October, The Finale: You’re Next by Graeme Reid (View Post)

Most Viewed Posts:

          1. This is Endgame (for the second month running)(View Post)
          2. Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reads (View Post)
          3. Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels to Read (View Post)

 

Added to the Shelves:

After lifting my book buying ban to buy some books for Horror October, I’ve gone back to being good (broke) and didn’t buy any books in the last two months. I did go a bit mad in the virtual aisles of Netgalley though to make up for it.

Netgalley Approvals:

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Awards:

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All available to buy from Waterstones.

WWW Wednesday 03.12.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

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Currently Reading:
I’m struggling through The Barefoot Queen, which is a really interesting read about a Cuban slave, but too bogged down in unnecessary details for my liking. And it’s soooooooooooo long, but something is making me want to finish it! I CAN DO IT!

Recently Finished:
The last one I finished was Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen which I really liked, and reviewed here.

Up Next:
I can’t wait to start my festive reads – I have Mr Miracle by Debbie Macomber, A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale and more! And, I want to read Maze Runner by the end of the year too. Ahhh.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Releases

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten 2015 Releases that I can’t wait for.

Excuse the lack of pictures/links in this post. It was a rush job before I left for work this morning – you know how it is. But I really wanted to do this list – because, excitement!

HEIR

1. The Heir (The selection #4) – Kiera Cass: Obvs. Released in May. SAD FACE.

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black: Released January 13th

3. Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard: Released Feb 10th.

4. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) – Marissa Meyer: November 2015 – TOO LONG!

5. Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) – Rachel Hartman: March 10th

6. The Orphan Queen – Jodi Meadows: March 10th as well!

7. The Girl at Midnight – Melissa Grey: April 28th

8. My Heart and Other Black Holes – Jasmine Warga: I’ve heard good things about this from fellow bloggers. Feb 10th

9. The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness: There’s not much info about this one yet…but NESSSSS! August 2015

10. Second Life – S.J Watson: Feb 12th.

Frighteningly Festive: Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

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Title: Dying For Christmas
Author: Tammy Cohen
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 274 pages
Publication Details: November 20th 2014 by Transworld Digital
Genre(s): Thriller, Crime
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

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I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …

…But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

Review

This was my first read of Tammy Cohen, who has also published books under her full name Tamar Cohen. The name stood out to me and I only realised after finishing the book that she teaches at the local university here. How weird is that?

Anyway, Dying For Christmas is a psychological thriller/Crime drama with more twists and turns than Alton Towers. And to carry on the theme park analogy, my enjoyment of it rollercoastered a lot too.

The story is told in two halves, the first detailing Jessica Gold’s kidnapping and captivity, and the second following the case after her release.

This is one of those books that is difficult to discuss without giving away spoilers and ruining the enjoyment for others, so forgive me for not going into detail here. What I can say though, is that Dying for Christmas was a quick, enjoyable read but not without its flaws.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the constant switching of perspective from Jessica and Kim, the detective leading the investigation into Jessica’s disappearance. I found myself skipping the parts about Kim and the strain her job is putting on her home life – I didn’t warm to her for some reason, and didn’t really care what was happening outside of the investigation.

I also didn’t like how cynical Kim was about the disappearance. All of the evidence suggests that the kidnapper is psychotic, but all of a sudden Kim seems to have doubts after obsessing over finding her. It didn’t ring true to me.

All of that aside, this book was full of twists and turns which makes a great read, even if I did feel a little cheated in a way. I never knew what to expect and the surprises kept on coming right through to the end. Dying for Christmas is not your average festive read, but certainly an interesting and clever one.

unicorn rating 3

Dying for Christmas is available in paperback now from Waterstones. Click here for details of 30% off!