Recent Reads: Sept 18, Part 1 #BookReviews

 

Recentreads

Here are some thoughts on my recently read books – yes, I’m very behind!

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Midwinterblood // Marcus Sedgwick // October 2011 // Indigo // Goodreads

I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick. He’s written some of my favourite books (My Swordhand is Singing; Blood Red, Snow White; She is Not Invisible), and I’ve been slowly working my way through his back-catalogue. Midwinterblood had been on my list for a while and I’m pleased I finally got round to it.

It’s an odd book, and I mean that in the best way. It’s one of those books that’s like reading a dream. It explores the theme of soulmates in that deliciously dark tone that you’d recognise in Sedgwick’s early novels if you’ve read any. It’s mysterious and tantalising, in that as you encounter the several versions of the protagonist, the truth feels like an unobtainable thing. I found that this forced me to keep reading, but in some ways made me want to give up too.

The setting helped too. I wonder if Sedgwick had Fair Isle in mind as that’s all I could think of as I was reading which made it all the more mesmerising. 

I can’t say Midwinterblood is gripping in the normal way a thriller or mystery book is, but its strangeness made it impossible for me to stop reading. 

unicorn rating 4

 

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My Name is Leon // Kit De Waal // April 2017 // Penguin Books // Goodreads

I heard Kit De Waal talk at an event long before I picked up this book. She is a truly inspiring woman, so it’s no surprise that this novel, her first, was nominated for various awards. 

My Name is Leon what I class as a quiet novel. It’s a small story making a big point, but it’s not throwing that point down your throat. I think it was a great idea to set Leon’s story in the 80s. It highlights the mindset of that decade and lets us contrast it with today. Are we backtracking to that time in terms of equality and race relations? Would mixed-race Leon have had the same opportunities as his white brother today? Maybe.

The whole of this novel is written from nine-year-old Leon’s POV which can’t be easy, but De Waal does an excellent job. Leon can’t quite make sense of what is happening and he often misinterprets things and lashes out. It must have been tempting for De Waal to explain or rationalise Leon’s behaviour at times, but she does it perfectly and sensitively through his actions alone.

I didn’t find this a mind-blowing novel by any means, but I definitely enjoyed its big heart.  

unicorn rating 4

 

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Ink and Bone // Rachel Caine // The Great Library #1 // July 2015 //  Allison & Busby // Goodreads

This series is a book-lovers dream. Rachel Caine is most well known for her Morganville Vampires series, so this is quite a departure for her.

Ink and Bone introduces us to a world where owning physical books is illegal. All books,  are contained by The Great Library, and therefore knowledge within those books is strictly governed. Protagonist Jess is a book runner – buying and selling books on the black market, but when he gets the opportunity to try-out as an apprentice for the Great Library, he learns just how corrupt the whole system is. 

Books, magic, adventure, danger, a dash of romance…whats not to like!?

I enjoyed this book. Sometimes I felt that Caine had maybe bitten off more than she could chew as the world and plot got a bit lost to me at times, but she always managed to pull it back into a believable world. I liked the mix of characters, especially the professors who were ruthless, but their humanity shone though when it need to. A fun, YA read. 

unicorn rating 4

 

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Cinderella Boy // Kristina Meister // July 2018 //  Triton // Goodreads

I knew I’d enjoy Cinderella Boy but I didn’t expect to not be able to put it down. I read it in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon – I’ve not done that for a long, long time!

Cinderella Boy is a true coming-of-age tale. We follow Declan on his journey of self-discovery. From angst and torment to confidence and peace, it’s the story of a shy geeky kid exploring his gender-fluidity and becoming free from his anxieties.

I absolutely adored Declan. He had that great mix of vulnerability and strength, and I loved that although he was scared of being different and how people would react if they knew he was living as Layla as well as Declan, he knew that being both genders is who he is, and only by being himself would he be happy. It helped that he managed to bag a hot guy as both Layla and Declan.

This book wasn’t perfect, of course. I found it quite hard to believe that no one could tell that Layla was Declan…I mean just how good was that make up? It was also a little predictable at times, but it didn’t matter. It’s a wonderful, diverse story, a great romance, and the pages just seemed to turn themselves!

 

unicorn rating

Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought!

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Reading Round-up: March/April 2018, Part 1 #MiniBookReviews

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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty rubbish at posting reviews lately. I unfortunately don’t have the time (or the motivation) at the moment. I would, however, like to share a few thoughts on some of my recent reads…

 

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island  ~ Liz Kessler

This book was so cute. I’d never read any Liz Kessler books before and I didn’t realise this was like book 7 in the series, but it didn’t matter at all. It’s a story about friendship, family, romance and a mysterious adventure involving an ancient prophecy, (I bloody love an ancient prophecy btw) and of course, Mermaids!

I thought it was paced well, and had some struggles and dilemmas in it that were perfect for the target age group, such as letting down your best friend, and being the third, all nicely topped off with some mermaid magic.

unicorn rating 4

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ~ Mackenzi Lee

I’m so glad that this book was as good as I anticipated. It’s not a quick read, but totally worth the investment. There’s not that much historical YA out there, particularly LGBT historical YA, and this tale of travelling and debauchery is in a league of its own. It’s a great story, with truly diverse characters and not just for the sake of it like I see happening in YA a lot these days.

unicorn rating 4

 

Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda ~ Becky Albertalli

I knew I would love this book from the moment it came out, but I’m afraid all the hype did ruin it a little bit for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it, and I loved the main characters, and the fact that books like this exist, but people were talking about it like it’s something new, and I didn’t think it was really.

unicorn rating 4

 

Member of the Family ~ Dianne Lake

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had this weird fascination with Charles Manson, but I never really read that much about him in the time before the murders took place. This book, written by the youngest recruited member of ‘the family’, provides a lot of insight on that time when the group transitioned from a hippie commune, to a sadistic cult capable of the harshest of crimes. 

I found a lot of this book interesting but it dragged, especially in the beginning. I get that Dianne’s dysfunctional childhood is what paved the way for her joining Manson, but it could have been summarised a bit. I’m glad I read it though!

unicorn rating 3

More mini reviews will be posted tomorrow 🙂

This Week in Books 28.03.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next!

Happy Wednesday blog friends. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

Now:

 

Member of the Family: Manson, Murder and Me ~ Dianne Lake

I don’t read a huge amount of true crime but I’ve always had a weird fascination with Charles Manson, so I had to pick this up when I spotted it in the library last week. Not much to report so far, but hoping it’ll be an interesting read.

memberofIn this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls.”

At age fourteen, Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history.

Then:

 

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Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island

This was my first Emily Windsnap book and it was great. Cute, with a great adventure…and I love a good prophecy! I was also really pleased that it read well as a stand-alone.

 

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda ~ Becky Albertallisimonvs

I knew I would enjoy this book, but I do think it was hyped up a bit too much. I was expecting something more unique, but that’s not to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, because I did!

Next:

 

Either Anything You Do Say, or Mother of EdenWhat would you go for?

anything Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

 

 

mothereden“We speak of a mother’s love, but we forget her power.”
Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden.

Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them.

Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all.
When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition and energy. But she has no inkling that she will become a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s fabled ring on her own finger—or that in this role, powerful and powerless all at once, she will try to change the course of Eden’s history.

 

What have you been reading this week? Leave a comment/link and I’ll do my best to take a look 🙂

This Week in Books 24.01.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next

Wednesday again, huh! I got back from Las Vegas yesterday so I’m feeling a little bit worse for wear (how do people fly all the time, it’s awful!?). I’m having a sofa day to recover though, so I thought I may as well share my books with you.

Here’s what I’ve been reading…

Now:

The Word for Woman is Wilderness ~ Abi Andrews

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Erin is 19. She’s never really left England, but she has watched Bear Grylls and wonders why it’s always men who get to go on all the cool wilderness adventures. So Erin sets off on a voyage into the Alaskan wilderness, a one-woman challenge to the archetype of the rugged male explorer.

As Erin’s journey takes her through the Arctic Circle, across the entire breadth of the American continent and finally to a lonely cabin in the wilds of Denali, she explores subjects as diverse as the moon landings, the Gaia hypothesis, loneliness, nuclear war, shamanism and the pill.

Filled with a sense of wonder for the natural world and a fierce love for preserving it, The Word for Woman is Wilderness is a funny, frank and tender account of a young woman in uncharted territory.

 

I was hoping to finish this whilst I was away but unfortunately I didn’t get much reading done, even on the long plane journey – I felt too tired to read (a first for me!). I’ve read about half though and I’m really enjoying it. It’s so interesting. 

It reads more like a memoir, and the protagonist tends to go off on tangents a lot, but it’s totally compelling. Looking forward to reviewing this one.

 

Then:

 

Veronica’s Bird ~ Veronica Bird & Richard Newman

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Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

I was a bit disappointed with this one. It was interesting in parts, but I felt like something was missing the whole way through – emotion! My review will be part of the blog tour; my stop is in two days time.

 

Next:

 

I think it’ll be either The Cruel Prince, or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue which I got at Christmas.

cruelprinceOf course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed.

The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

What have you been reading this week? Leave a comment/link and I’ll do my best to take a look 🙂

Horror October: I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist #BookReview #HO17

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Title: I Am Behind You
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Series: Platserna #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by riverrun
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Review

 

I’ve had a hit and miss (but mostly miss), relationship with Lindqvist so far to be honest, but I loved the sound of this book. And I’m pleased to report that this has been my favourite of his so far!

I Am Behind You, is hands down one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, and thus a perfect read for a dark October evening.

It’s about a myriad of different families who wake up in their holiday caravans to find that the caravan park is gone. They’ve been moved, or have they? There is nothing around, and when they drive, they don’t get anywhere. The ground is strange and smells like blood.

Not only that, but there are these white human-like creatures stalking around. Before long, the families realise that they all see these creatures as different things; a tiger, a salesman, John Wayne characters… what does it all mean?

And then it starts to rain acid.

Out of all of the Lindqvist books I’ve read, I Am Behind You was definitely the most readable. I don’t know whether the translation was just better this time, but the pages flew by. I was totally submerged in this strange, creepy place and had to keep reading to get to the bottom of it.

But here lies the problem. We don’t get to the bottom of it, of anything really. Which was really frustrating. There’s only so many crazy things that can happen without even an iota of an explanation before you stop caring. But read on I did!

Apparently this is the first in a series, so maybe it will be addressed in the next book, but I wish he would have given us something more concrete as to what the hell was going on, you know!?

The star of the show were the characters for me. Each of the families bring something different, and alarming to the story. A few of them are loveable, but mainly they’re all troubled in some way, especially Molly, the token creepy child who was once left in a tunnel and has never been the same since.

I hate to liken every horror writer to Stephen King, but parts of this really did remind me of him and his great characterisation. If you liked Under the Dome, I think you’d enjoy this too.

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Don’t forget to vote in the Flash Fiction Battle!

Voting ends at 19:00 tonight.

Horror October: Week #4 Wrap-up! #HO17

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The end is nigh, horror fans! And I can’t lie, I’m slightly relieved. It’s been a blast, but busy, oh so busy!

Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 4

30 Days of Horror:

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Day #22 & #23: Relics & Angel of Vengeance

Day #24: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Day #25: The Hollow Girl

Day #26: Doctor Sleep

Top Ten Tuesday: Weird horror book titles

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This Week in Books 25.10.17

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #3: In That Sleep of Death by Stephen Kozeniewski

Entry #4: Puppets by Gabino Iglesias

Vote for Your Winner Now!

Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Lazy Saturday Review: Under My Skin by Juno Dawson

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Still to Come:

I crown the winner of the Flash Fiction Battle!

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

 

Horror October: Week 3 Wrap-up #HO17

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Well, that was another busy week! I took a few days off over the weekend so need to catch-up this week. Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 3

 

Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

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30 Days of Horror:

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Day #14: Cruel Summer

Day #15: Department Zero

Day #16: The Merciless

Day #17: The Haunting

Day #18: Redder Than Blood

Day #19: Phantoms

Day #21: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day & Day #22: Ghostland

 

This Week in Books 18.10.17

 

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #1: Holding On by Sean Seebach

Entry #2: Master of Cemeteries by Justin Bienvenue

Still to Come:

The last two entries for the Flash Fiction Battle and the vote will open shortly!