ARC Review: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

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BABY DOLL BY HOLLIE OVERTON
CORNERSTONE DIGITAL (KINDLE), EXPECTED PUBLICATION 30 JUNE 2016
400 PAGES

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

NETI got an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

She kept moving forward. She didn’t stop. She didn’t look back.

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she’s been locked away from the outside world. During that time she’s changed from a girl into a woman. She’s had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know – to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend – and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily’s perfect life as a teenager doesn’t exist anymore. Since she’s been gone, her family’s lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

OPENING 

A dead bolt has a very specific sound.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Baby Doll is a well-written, edge of your seat thriller. This will be one of my top reads of 2016. The book deals with a similar premise to Room by Emma Donoghue but is very different from Donoghue’s novel. This is one of those books that you can’t stop reading one you’ve started. I found myself reading five chapters then having to read five more to find out if this storyline was resolved and then I absolutely had to read another five chapters because of this reason and that reason. This is definitely a page turner than will have you engrossed. I was literally glued to the book for the last 100 pages or so. I loved the way Lily and her twin sister Abbey’s relationship is explored. Abbey pain was almost unbearable at times. The revelation of who took Lily eight years ago was a sucker-punch straight to my gut. The novel uses four different narrators; Lily, Abbey, their mother Eve and the man who took Lily. This works really well. I loved having the different perspectives on what was happening. Lily is a great character and comes across as incredibly brave and resilient, someone who refuses to be broken by all she has endured. Baby Doll has a stunning and unexpected ending, one that will be in my head for a long time. Quite simply put, Baby Doll is a brilliant thriller.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

ARC Review: Dirty Pretty Things by Michael Faudet

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DIRTY PRETTY THINGS BY MICHAEL FAUDET
ANDREWS MCMEEL PUBLISHING (KOBO), EXPECTED PUBLICATION JUNE 2016
288 PAGES

AUTHOR’S FACEBOOK PAGE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

NETI was given this ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

He paints vivid pictures with intricate words and explores the compelling themes of love, loss, relationships, and sex. All beautifully captured in poetry, prose, quotes, and little short stories.

Michael lives in a house by the sea in New Zealand with his girlfriend, international bestselling author, Lang Leav.

EXTRACT

AWAY FROM YOU

I think of thoughts
That cannot be
No hand can reach
Across this sea
The seasons change
On distant shores
From frosty skies
To sunshine blue
As summer’s touch
Undresses you –

WHAT I THOUGHT

Dirty Pretty Things is a wonderful collection of vibrant, striking poems, short pieces of prose, quotes and little stories. I had a great time reading this collection from a writer I’ve never encountered before. I love finding new writers to adore; it’s like wading through the trash and finding a lovely shiny diamond. So many pieces in this collection are quite sensual without being explicit or pornographic. They were a joy to read. The title of the collection is an accurate reflection of the contents. The collection is packed with lovely, pretty little objects with just a hint of a dirty undertone. I could happily have read a collection two or three times the length of this one and felt quite sad when I read the end. Notable pieces include Away From You, Lost Words, Vodka, Pen Portrait, The Picnic and Teach Me. One example of a sensual piece in this collection:

OVERWHELMED
I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, she said, but I have
an overwhelming urge to fuck you – right here, right now.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

ARC Review: Risuko (A Kunoichi Tale) by David Kudler

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RISUKO: A KUNOICHI TALE BY DAVID KUDLER
STILLPOINT DIGITAL PRESS (KINDLE), EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE 15 JUNE
236 PAGES

AUTHOR’S GOOD READS PROFILE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

NETI was given this ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel. 

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.

OPENING

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Risuko is an original concept for historical YA fiction. I adored the Japanese culture and history woven throughout the book. I’ve read very little books that use this culture as a background so I found it very interesting. The book is well-written, interesting and the description of time and place are so vivid I felt like I was really there seeing the world with my own eyes. The author does a great job of bringing time and place to life and I can’t fault this. However, mot enough time and effort is spent bringing the plot and characters to life. As much as I enjoyed the wonderful description of the setting, I found myself not caring about the characters or what happened to them. They never felt real to me. I wasn’t move by anything that happened to anyone. I got swept up in the wonderful setting and descriptions and carried along but the flat characters and lack of plot was a let-down. A great book needs a combination of great setting, good plot and great characters to tick all the boxes. Unfortunately, Risuko didn’t tick every box. However, I would probably read the next book in the series to see how things develop and if the characters come to life a bit more.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

Fiction Review: The Ice Child by Camilla Läckberg

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THE ICE CHILD BY CAMILLA LÄCKBERG
HARPERCOLLINS (KOBO), 2016
416 PAGES

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

January, Fjällbacka. A semi-naked girl wanders through the woods in freezing cold weather. When she finally reaches the road, a car comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t manage to stop.

By the time Detective Patrik Hedström receives word of the accident, the girl has already been identified. Four months ago she disappeared on her way home from the local riding school, and no one has seen her since. It quickly becomes clear that she has been subjected to unimaginably brutal treatment. And it’s likely she’s not the only one.

Meanwhile, Patrik’s wife, crime writer Erica Falck, is looking into an old case – a family tragedy that led to a man’s death. His wife was convicted of murder, but Erica senses that something isn’t right. What is the woman hiding? As Erica digs deeper, the past starts to cast a shadow over the present and Patrik is forced to see his investigation in a whole new light.

OPENING

The horse could smell the fear even before the girl emerged from the woods. The rider urged the horse on, digging her heels into the animal’s flanks, though it wasn’t really necessary. They were so in tune that her mount sensed her wishes almost before she did.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Ice Child is another fantastic crime novel from one of my favourite writers. I stopped reading crime fiction for a while several years ago and Läckberg made me fall in love with the genre again. The Ice Child is among my favourites of her novels. Läckberg uses the same structure that she’s used in her other novels – long chapters divided into sections with each section dealing with a different characters plot. I enjoy the way Läckberg’s novels are structured and paced. I loved the way the author gradually reveals what links the girl’s strange death and recent disappearances with the case Erica is researching for a novel. All the little invisible threads that link tragedies together. I had no idea what the link was or who the villains were. I love it when a writer takes me by surprise. The Ice Child is well-written, with great characters and a plot that left me unsettled which isn’t an easy thing to do. The Ice Child is another great novel from Läckberg. The novels ends with some things unresolved so I hope the final pieces of the puzzle are revealed in the next book.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Poetry Review: The Time Traveller by Joyce Carol Oates

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THE TIME TRAVELLER BY JOYCE CAROL OATES
DUTTON BOOKS (PAPERBACK), 1989
131 PAGES

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Here are 70 poems representing the depth and intensity of Oates’ feelings, the intuitive understanding and heightened perception of life that have made her so extraordinary a writer.

EXTRACT

LOVES OF THE PARROTS

Giant parrots of Yucatan perching
Splendid in the sun! Bright green
Bright yellow, bright
Arterial red!

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Time Traveller is a fantastic collection of poems. I enjoy JCO’s poetry as much as her fiction, sometimes even more. Many of the poems in this collection are narrative. Each one is like a little vignette, exploring the ups and down, happiness and sadness of life. I enjoyed every poem in the collection and would have loved if it had been twice as long. When JCO gets it right – which she does in spades in The Time Traveller – I find it hard to stop reading and feel sad when I reach the end. Every poem in this collection is excellent but my favourites are Your Blood in a Little Puddle, On the Ground, The Mountain Lion, A Winter Suite, The House of Mystery and the title poem.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

ARC Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

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THE FIREMAN BY JOE HILL
GOLLANCZ (KINDLE), MAY 2016
768 PAGES

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

NETI got an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Nobody knew where the virus came from.

 

FOX News said it had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s.

MSNBC said sources indicated it might’ve been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation.

CNN reported both sides.

While every TV station debated the cause, the world burnt.

Pregnant school nurse, HARPER GRAYSON, had seen lots of people burn on TV, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.

With the epic scope of THE PASSAGE and the emotional impact of THE ROAD, this is one woman’s story of survival at the end of the world.

OPENING

Harper Grayson had seen lots of people burn on TV, everyone had, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Joe Hill is one of my favourite writers. He rocks! I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to have an ARC of this book. Ok, fan girl gush over – it’s time to get down to business.

The Fireman is a fantastic pre, during and post-apocalyptic novel. I’m a huge fan of this type of fiction and The Fireman ticks every box. The virus, strange markings that appear on people and is quickly christened Dragonscale is a very original way to end the world. It made a pleasant change from books about the walking dead. I really liked the fact that the book focuses mainly on Harper’s story. Hill could have done something similar to his dad with The Stand and used a huge cast of characters but I’m glad he focused on Harper and the small group of survivors she hooks up with. This made the book a lot more personal; the darker moments had way more impact. The parts of the novel that focus on the camp Harper joins were thoroughly engrossing though incredibly sad at times. The Fireman of the title is a great character. His story broke my heart. I loved the way the novel is paced with tension and suspense gradually increasingly. The novel gets quite dark and sad towards the end and I cried a few times. The ending is spot on though. The Fireman will stay with me for a long time.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

ARC Review: The Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown

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THE SECRET OF ORCHARD COTTAGE BY ALEX BROWN
HARPER (KINDLE), EXPECTED PUBLICATION 19 MAY 2016
400 PAGES

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

NET

I got an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

April Wilson is wondering what to do next – her life has been turned upside down after the loss of her husband so she’s hoping to piece herself together again with a visit to her elderly great aunt, Edith. Arriving in the rural idyll of Tindledale, she’s dismayed to find Edith’s cottage and the orchards surrounding it in a sorry state of disrepair. Edith seems to have lost interest completely; instead she’s become desperate to find out what happened to her sister, Winnie, who disappeared during WWII.

April gets to work immediately, discovering that the orchard still delivers a bumper crop each year, and with the help of some of the villagers – including Matt, the enigmatic Farrier – begins to unravel the mystery of the missing Winnie.

Slowly, April can feel things coming to life again – but can Orchard Cottage work its magic on her too?

OPENING

As the early morning sun sauntered over the apple trees in the orchard next to the cottage, bathing her bedroom in strands of glorious spun gold, Winnie Lovell tucked the last letter into an envelope and stowed it inside her handbag along with the others for posting later.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Secret of Orchard Cottage is a lovely book – just the right blend of happy and sad. There are moments in this book that made me smile. There are moments that brought a lump to my throat. The characters are all very well-written and almost leap off the page. April is very likable. Edie is a great character as well. Edie is showing signs of some form of dementia and there are some very sad, touching moments in the book when her mind is confused. The mystery surrounding Winnie’s disappearance doesn’t really kick off until quite far into the book. At this point is when things get really interesting. Winnie’s story is incredibly sad and I had tears in my eyes a few times. My heart when is my throat when April is able to tell her poor, befuddled aunt the truth about her sister. I was pleasantly surprised by The Secret of Orchard Cottage. After the light-hearted start I wasn’t expecting to be so moved by Winnie’s story. This is a good thing and I was taken completely by surprise by what April discovered. The book is beautifully written as well and hugely enjoyable. The Secret of Orchard Cottage is a joy to read.

RATING

4 STAR RATING