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The Book Lover's Boudoir

For people who dig books and like to read honest reviews…

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis REVIEW

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TITLE & AUTHOR: The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
PUBLISHER: The Borough Press
EDITION: Kindle
RELEASE DATE: 30 June 2016
PAGES: 400

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

NET

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.

So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

OPENING 

I sat up high, oak branch ‘tween my knees, and watched the tattooed man stride about in the snow. Pictures all over his face, no skin left no more, just ink and blood. Looking for me, he was. Always looking for me. He left red drops in the white, fallen from his fish knife. Not fish blood though. Man blood. Boy blood. Lad from Tucket lost his scalp to that knife. Scrap of hair and pink hung from the man’s belt. That was dripping too, hot and fresh. He’d left the body in the thicket for the wolves to find.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

The Wolf Road is bleak, gut-wrenching and brilliant. I loved every word of this book. In some ways this could be classed as post-apocalyptic fiction but is very different from fiction that usually falls under this category. This isn’t about surviving to find a new way of life after the word ends. It’s about discovering you’ve been raised by a human monster and trying to run from the dark memories threatening to drive you insane. The Wolf Road is written in the first person and I love Elka’s voice and the dialect she uses. She compelled me to keep reading to find out whether she was going to keep running from the man who raised her or would be forced to confront him and the truth about the past they shared. There are some dark moments in this book but there is also a lot of love and hope especially when Elka saves someone’s life and finds human companionship she’s never known. This is the kind of book that sucks you in when you start reading and you find it very hard to put it down. I loved the premise behind the book – Elka finding out that the man she considers her father is a murderer. Her fear that he would find her and hurt her, her confusion that the man she considered her father was a monster and the pain caused when she started to remember things about her past with Trapper/Hallet were almost unbearably real. The Wolf Road is brilliant. I look forward to reading what the author has to offer next.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer REVIEW

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TITLE & AUTHOR: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
PUBLISHER: Puffin
EDITION: Kobo
PUBLISHED: 3 January 2013
PAGES: 464 pages
Source: Digital Library Book

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

This is not the fairytale you remember.

But it’s one you won’t forget.

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner…

OPENING

 Scarlet was descending toward the Alley behind the Rieux Tavern when her portscreen chimed from the passenger seat, followed by an automated voice: ‘Comm received for Mademoiselle Scarlet Benoit from the Toulouse Law Enforcement Department of Missing Persons’. 

WHAT I THOUGHT

I am now a huge fan of the Lunar chronicles and can’t wait to read the third book Cress.

It took me a while to get into Scarlet. I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I enjoyed Cinder. The first few chapters focused on Scarlet and I got frustrated because I wanted to know what was going on with Cinder. A few chapters in and Scarlet wove the same spell on me (pardon the pun) that Cinder did. I got sucked into the book, into Scarlet and Cinder’s adventures and the revelation of what linked both their stories together. I loved Scarlet as a character. Like Cinder, I really enjoyed the elements from Little Red Riding Hood that I recognised and the original details. Scarlet is much, much longer than Cinder and a lot more happens. I loved the way Scarlet and Cinder’s stories came together at the end and can’t wait to read Cress. I hoped to borrow it from my digital library but they only have one copy and it’s on loan so I reserved it. You can borrow digital titles for 1-3 weeks depending on your setting so I hope I don’t need to wait long.

I loved Scarlet and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

New Book W/C 18July 2016

Immortal WritersImmortal Writers by Jill Bowers

I got this ARC from Blue Moon Publishers via NetGalley. Blue Moon Publishers have auto-approved me so I can get a copy of every book they put on the site.

The book isn’t due to be published until September so I won’t reading it for about a month.

I decided I had to read it when I saw the blurb:

Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

RageRage by Zygmunt Miloszewski

I recently signed up for the full Amazon Prime package.

One of the benefits is you can choose a title from the Kindle First selection for free. Kindle First allows readers to buy one of six bo0oks for £1 a month before publication. Prime members don’t need to pay the £1.

I choose this book because it was the only interesting one from the six offered.

The blurb intrigues me:

All eyes are on famous prosecutor Teodor Szacki when he investigates a skeleton discovered at a construction site in the idyllic Polish city of Olsztyn. Old bones come as no shock to anyone in this part of Poland, but it turns out these remains are fresh, the flesh chemically removed.

Szacki questions the dead man’s wife, only to be left with a suspicion she’s hiding something. Then another victim surfaces—a violent husband, alive but maimed—giving rise to a theory: someone’s targeting domestic abusers. And as new clues bring the murderer closer to those Szacki holds dear, he begins to understand the terrible rage that drives people to murder.

From acclaimed Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski comes a gritty, atmospheric page-turner that poses the question, what drives a sane man to kill?

29981261The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

Another benefit of Amazon Prime is that I can borrow one title a month from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

I choose this book this month because of the blurb which really got my interest:

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

The Reader on the 6.27The Reader on the 6:27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

I’ve wanted to read this book for a couple of months since I saw it prominently displayed in the window of Waterstone’s. I finally got round to buying a copy from Amazon.

I love the blurb:

Working at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, Guylain Vignolles has but one pleasure in life. Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain recites aloud from pages he has saved from the jaws of his monstrous pulping machine. It’s this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life. For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie. Julie feels as lost in the world as he does. As he reads from these pages to a rapt audience, Guylain finds himself falling hopelessly in love with their enchanting author. This is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain’s life for the better. This captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature’s power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives.

The Woman in the Woods by Louise Mullins ARC REVIEW

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TITLE & AUTHOR: The Woman in the Woods by Louise Mullins
PUBLISHER: Bloodhound Books
EDITION: Kindle
PUBLISHED: Expected 19 July 2016
PAGES: 269
Source: Publisher

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Reporter, Rachel Harper, begins to investigate the disappearance of a local student. In the hope of redeeming her career, she is determined to find out what happened to Gemma. But beneath the surface of her professional life lies a secret she is too ashamed to confront.

When Gemma’s body is discovered in Leigh Woods, Rachel becomes obsessed with finding her killer. But as the list of suspects mount it is clear that someone is following her every lead.

Can Rachel discover what happened on that cold winter night before her own demons catch up with her?

The Woman in the Woods is an absorbing psychological thriller from the bestselling author Louise Mullins it will appeal to fans of authors like Lisa Hall, Kathryn Croft and CL Taylor.

OPENING 

The spade hits something hard, disturbing the still air. Dusk has fallen and the grass, coated in a thin film of ice, crunches underfoot. The harsh air fills the space between metal and harsh stone and it’s hard to breathe through the stagnant reminder of winter.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

The Woman in the Woods is a hugely enjoyable thriller.

This is the kind of book that screws with the reader’s head because there are so many twists and turns and so many questions that form in your head as you read. I thought this was happening or that was happening and this person or that person was Gemma’s killer only for the author to prove time and time again how wrong I was. I liked that my guesses were wrong most of the time. There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than reading a thriller which keeps you guessing and where the author keeps leading you up the garden path, surprising the hell out of you. I really liked the fact that The Woman in the Woods is narrated by different characters including Gemma, Rachel and Gemma’s lover. The narrator for each chapter is well sight-posted so there’s no confusion. The multiple narrators work really well making The Woman in the Woods a complex, thrilling read.

I’d highly recommend The Woman in the Woods and plan to read more of this author.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

The Runaway Woman by Josephine Cox REVIEW

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TITLE & AUTHOR: The Runaway Woman by Josephine Cox
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
EDITION: Kobo
PUBLISHED: 1 January 2014
PAGES: 433
SOURCE: Digital Library Book

AUTHOR’ WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

downloadThis counts towards the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2016. The category is ‘A Book Recommended By A Family Member’.  

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

No-one thought she had the courage…

Those looking in from the outside think Lucy Lovejoy’s life is like any other, but at the centre of her family there is a big empty hole where all the love and warmth should be. Over the years, her children have watched while their father chipped away at Lucy’s self-confidence. Now the children are following their own paths, and Lucy has never felt more alone.

When tragedy strikes at the heart of the family, it’s a wake-up call for Lucy. Everyone has taken a little piece of her, and she isn’t sure who she is anymore. So when Lucy faces a betrayal from those she loves deepest, she knows that it’s time to make a choice.

Is she brave enough to find herself again?

OPENING 

DURING THE DAYM Lucy kept herself busy.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really didn’t enjoy this book. I find it hard to describe how awful it was.

Firstly, I cannot believe this is the author’s 50th novel. The style of writing is what you’d expect from an amateur writer who doesn’t fully understand what they’re doing. Every thought that stumbles across the mind of every character is reported verbatim. Everything is described in minute, almost painful detail. Scenes stop in the middle for a couple of paragraphs about what the characters are thinking about each other. There is no room for the reader to imagine or wonder because we’re force-fed everything. The book is so tedious at times it becomes almost unreadable. The characters are one-dimensional and so bland I didn’t give a stuff about any of them. Lucy is the single dullest character to ever disgrace fiction. We are told repeatedly, for pages and pages how downtrodden and sad and lonely and pathetic Lucy is. The author has a ‘feel sorry for Lucy damn it’ stick that she likes to smash the reader over the head with every half hour or so. The plot was yawn-worthy and predictable.

I wouldn’t recommend The Runaway Woman to anyone and don’t plan to read any more of this author.

RATING

1 STAR

Running With Scissors (A Memoir) by Augusten Burroughs REVIEW

Running With Scissors by [Burroughs, Augusten]

TITLE: Running With Scissors (A Memoir) by Augusten Burroughs
PUBLISHER: Atlantic Books
EDITION: Kobo
RELEASE DATE: 1 February 2004
PAGES: 340
SOURCE: Digital Library

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

This is the true story of a boy who wanted to grow up with the Brady Bunch, but ended up living with the Addams Family. Augusten Burroughs’s mother gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa Claus and a certifiable lunatic into the bargain. The doctor’s bizarre family, a few patients and a sinister man living in the garden shed completed the tableau.

In the perfect squalor of their dilapidated Victorian house, there were no rules and there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer and Valium was chomped down like sweets. And when things got a bit slow, there was always the ancient electroshock therapy machine under the stairs…

EXTRACT

MY MOTHER IS STANDING IN FRONT OF THE BATHROOM MIRROR smelling polished and ready; like Jean Nate, Dippity Do and the waxy sweetness of lipstick. Her white, hand-gun shaped blow-dryer is lying on top of the wicker hamper, ticking as it cools. She stands back and smoothes her hands down the front of her swirling, psychedelic Pucci dress, biting the inside of her cheek.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thoroughly enjoyed Running with Scissors even though it shocked and disturbed me at times. This is a not a humorous memoir but there were some funny moments. The Finch family are too bizarre, strange and weird to be taken seriously. Running with Scissors is billed as a memoir but I’d take some of the outrageous behaviour of the characters with a pinch of salt. I’m not 100% convinced everything in this book is ‘true’. The real family Augusten lived with apparently sued him for defamation.

I had a blast reading the book and thinking imagine living with these people? There are some dark moments in the book which made me feel uncomfortable. Augusten has a sexual relationship with a man in his thirties when he’s only thirteen years old. The Finch family don’t bat an eyelid that a paedophile is preying on the child they have agreed to care for. But then again Natalie, one the daughters lived with a forty-something year-old-man when she was the same age and her father thought this was okay.

There is a lot of light in this book and hope as Augusten finds his own place in the world but there is an awful lot of darkness as well. My heart went out to Augusten and how he managed to cope with a mother prone to psychotic breaks and being sent to live with her psychiatrist and his family who embark on some questionable behaviour. I enjoyed the scenes involving the psychotic breaks of Augusten’s mother the most. They were genuine and I got a real sense that his mother did her best to deal with her illness. I never really liked any of the Finch family. I liked Natalie who became Augusten’s best friend. Hope was her father’s little pet and some of her behaviour verged on psychotic. I really didn’t like Mr Finch. His behaviour was appalling at times and he should never have been allowed to work as a psychiatrist. He allowed children in his care to be preyed on my paedophiles. He encouraged Hope’s madness when she thinks God is communicating through her father’s shit (I’m not making this up). I thought he was a horrible person.

I did really enjoy Running with Scissors and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Haiku for Lovers REVIEW

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TITLE & AUTHOR: Haiku for Lovers
PUBLISHER: M Q Publications
EDITION: Hardback
RELEASE DATE: 1 April 2004
PAGES: 256
SOURCE: Owned

EDITOR’S WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Love is the most complicated and yet the simplest of emotions. Haiku poetry, with its clarity and poignancy, is able to wonderfully capture the different moods of this intensely human condition. This anthology features the work of poets – both ancient and modern – from around the world.

EXTRACT
watched her approach
and as we finally pass
our umbrellas touch

(SEAN O’CONNOR)

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I am hesitant to review Haiku for Lovers. One the one hand the collection contains some lovely haikus. On the other hand, many of the poems (more than half) cannot really be called Haiku. A Haiku has a set form of syllable counts per line and contain three lines. Most of the poems in this collection clearly do not follow the strict syllable count of the Haiku and many only have two lines. I’m all for experimenting with poetry, alternating traditional forms and creating new ones. However, I feel a collection with the word Haiku in the title should contain actual Haiku’s. Call me pedantic. The most enjoyable, powerful Haiku’s are the ones that use the traditional forms. The others were okay but quite weak. A great Haiku can convey more emotion and depth than a 100 line poem. Many of the Haikus in this collection fall a little short. Unfortunately, very short poems don’t mean they are Haikus. Haiku for Lovers is a beautiful collection. The pages are on very thick paper. Each page is beautifully illustrated. The collection looks and feels gorgeous but lacks real substance I expect from Haiku or contemporary poetry.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

365 Stories by James Robertson REVIEW

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TITLE: 365 Stories by James Robertson
PUBLISHER: Hamish Hamilton
EDITION: Paperback
RELEASE DATE: 6 November 2014
PAGES: 397
SOURCE: Library

AUTHOR PAGE (SCOTISH BOOK TRUST)

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

In 2013, James Robertson wrote a story every day. Each was exactly 365 words long. A year later, on a daily basis, the stories were published on the Five Dials website. Now the 365 stories are gathered together in one volume. Some draw on elements of ancient myth and legend, others are outtakes from Scottish history and folklore; there are squibs and satires, songs and ballads in disguise, fairy tales, stories inspired by dreams or in the form of interviews, and personal memories and observations.

Underpinning all of them are vital questions: Who are we? What are we doing here? What happens next?

EXTRACT 

Before the beginning there was nothing (THE BEGINNING, 1 JANUARY)

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages since I stumbled across it by accident when browsing Amazon. I loved the idea behind it – 365 stories of 365 words, one for every day of the year. When I saw it at my local library I just had to borrow it.

365 Stories contains some of the best short, short fiction I’ve read. Writing very short fiction (say under 500 words) is a particular skill and not everyone can pull it off. The author is a genius and I’m impressed by the very fact this collection exists. I was impressed by the range and depth of the stories which covered a multitude of themes and subjects. It would have been easier to use the same themes over and over but the author doesn’t fall into this trap. Some stories have the same characters and situations but written in a different way. My favourite stories were the ones that take their roots from myth. I also really enjoyed the humorous stories about Jack and the Beanstalk and the crazy prophet, Simon Stoblichities. The January stories are slightly weaker than the others as the author finds his feet and goes from strength to strength. My favourite months were March, June, August, October and December. My only criticism is that my interest waned during the last quarter of the collection. I haven’t read a collection with so many stories before. I think the stories would be better taken in smaller chunks (i.e. read the stories for January, move onto something else, read the February stories at least a month later etc.). 365 Stories is highly recommended.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 

The Girl With The White Flag by Ed Penney ARC REVIEW

The Girl With The White FlagTITLE & AUTHOR: The Girl With The White Flag by Ed Penney
PUBLISHER: Bloodhound Books
EDITION: Kindle
PUBLISHED: 12 July 2016
PAGES: 338
Source: Publisher

AUTHOR PAGE (PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE)

BOOK PAGE (PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE)

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Eddy Boyle is a retired soldier who has set up a private detective agency that survives on cases involving unfaithful spouses.

But when Fletcher, a retired army Colonel, contacts Eddy to help find his missing daughter, a chain of events is set in motion that will test Eddy’s resolve to the limit.

Has the girl been abducted or has she simply run away? Is Fletcher the real deal or does he have ulterior motives? Can Eddy pick his way through the double-dealing in time to rescue the kidnapped girl? And when the body count starts to rise and Eddy is framed for murder, can he avoid the police, conquer his own mental demons and find the girl before time runs out?

This is the first book in the explosive new Eddy Boyle series.

Move over Jack Reacher – there’s a new anti-hero in town!

OPENING 

I woke to the sound of heavy traffic, horns blaring; people shouting, rain hammering; another shitty day in downtown paradise. I stared at the peeling paint on the ceiling and wondered what day it was. Where I was. Who I was.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

The Girl with the White Flag surpassed my expectations. I wasn’t enthralled for the first few chapters but ended up really enjoying the book. I can’t put my finger on what wasn’t working but I just didn’t feel the love. I forced myself to keep reading because I’ve read several review copies from this publisher recently and been impressed by them. A few chapters in and I started to fall in love with the book. I fell in love with Eddy. In many ways he’s not a particularly good person but there’s something vulnerable and appealing about him. He’s pretty messed up and disquietingly real. I kept reading because I was enthralled by Eddy. I flew through the pages. I really liked the plot. The Girl with the White Flag has plenty of twists, turns, up, down and misdirection. The ending isn’t a total surprise and us hinted at early on but no less satisfactory. I liked the time I spent in Eddy’s world and would like to spend more time there.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 

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