Posted in 2022, Chris Beckett, Contemporary Fiction, Novel, Prime Reading, Science Fiction

Dark Eden by @chriszbeckett

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the forest lie mountains so forbidding that no one has ever crossed them. The Oldest recount legends of a time when men and women made boats that could travel between worlds. One day, they will come back for you.

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, in the warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of an alien, sunless world.

You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to kill another, the first to venture into the Dark and the first to discover the truth about Eden.  

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Thud, thud, thud.

1, JOHN REDLANTERN

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(@CorvusBooks, 12 January 2012, ebook, 450 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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I’m a fan of the author and have wanted to read Dark Eden for ages. I thought this was a terrific read and plan to read the rest of the series. The book uses different characters to narrate each chapter which I really enjoyed. The book gets darker and darker as various characters start to realise Eden is not the safe paradise they have always believed it to be.

Posted in 2022, Contemporary Fiction, library book, Novel, Popsugar 2022, taylor jenkins reid

Daisy Jones and The Six by @tjenkinsreid

Everybody knows Daisy Jones and the Six.

From the moment Daisy walked barefoot on to the stage at the Whisky, she and the band were a sensation. Their sound defined an era. Their albums were on every turntable. They sold out arenas from coast to coast.

This is the story of their incredible rise: the desire, the rivalry – and the music.

Then, on 12 July 1979, Daisy Jones and the Six split up.

Nobody knew why. Until now…

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The Six started out as a blues-rock bank called Dunne Brothers in the mid-sixties out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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(@PenguinUKBooks, 5 March 2019, ebook, 368 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox, #POPSUGARReadingChallenge, a book about a band or musical group)

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This has been on my TBR list for ages and I’m glad I got a chance to experience it. I’ve read other books about bands but not many so was looking forward to Daisy Jones and The Six. I had a lot of fun with the book. I liked the way the book is structured, split into years charting the band’s success and each section is narrated by multiple people including bank members. There are no traditional chapters but each section has paragraphs from different people in the first person. This works really well though it took a few chapters to get used to. The books offers what I’d expect from a novel about the rise and fall of a band. I really enjoyed it.

Posted in 2022, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, library book, Michael Swanwick, Popsugar 2022, Short Fiction, Speculative Fiction

The Dog Said Bow-Wow by @MichaelSwanwick

Science fiction and fantasy’s most adept short-story author reinvents some classic themes in an engaging collection that includes three of his Hugo award-winning stories. These smart expansions of traditional themes summon dinosaurs, dragons, and peril in space, myths, faeries, and time travel, each undergoing artful alchemy to create serious genre literature that is playful, original, and clever. Comprising 16 imaginative and mischievous adventures, including the previously unpublished novelette, “The Skysailor’s Tale, “this adroit gathering makes a collection to truly revel in.   

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‘Hello’ Said the stick.

HELLO, SAID THE STICK

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(@TachyonPub, 1 September 2007, ebook, 256 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveInc, #POPSUGARReadingChallenge, a book with onomatopoeia in the title)

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This is a new author for me. I really enjoyed the stories in this collection, mostly speculative fiction. They are very funny at times, especially the title story. The early stories in the collection were hilarious. I liked the fact that each story was different so you had no idea what to expect nice. This is a treasure trove.

Posted in 2022, First Read, historical fiction, Novel

Spirited by @julie_cohen

A moving and gripping story about three women who keep unspeakable truths, from the Richard & Judy recommended bestselling author Julie Cohen.

Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom? 

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They were married in mourning.

CHAPTER 1

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(@HachetteUK, 9 July 2020, ebook, 352 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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This is a new author for me. I chose the book at random as it was on sale for 99p and the blurb intrigued me. I’ve read and enjoyed other books that deal with the same subjects and Spirited sounded like something I’d enjoy. I had a great time with this book. Viola is a great character and I really emphasised with her, grieving for her father, stuck in a loveless marriage and suddenly finding herself with a seemingly strange gift. I was hooked from start to finish. I really enjoyed this.

Posted in 2022, amazon first reads, First Read, historical fiction, Jesper Bugge Kold, Novel

Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold

As the dark spectre of the Nazis settles over Germany, two wealthy and educated brothers are suddenly thrust into the rising tide of war. Karl, a former soldier and successful businessman, dutifully answers the call to defend his country, while contemplative academic Gerhard is coerced into informing for the Gestapo. Soon the brothers are serving in the SS, and as Hitler’s hateful agenda brings about unspeakable atrocities, they find themselves with innocent blood on their hands.

Following Germany’s eventual defeat, Karl and Gerhard are haunted by their insurmountable guilt, and each seeks a way to escape from wounds that will never heal. They survived the war and its revelation of systematic horrors, but can they survive the unshakable knowledge of their own culpability?

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The city lay in the deep slumber of Siesta.

PROLOGUE

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(Amazon Crossing, 1 March 2016, ebook, 340 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle, translated by @kesemmel)

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This was an Amazon First Reads choice in February 2016 but I haven’t had a chance to read it until now. I’ve read a decent amount of historical fiction about the Nazi’s so was in familiar territory with Winter Men. I thought this was a bit different than other books I’ve read about the same subject matter in that the focus is people living in Germany plunged into the War rather than outside of Germany that has been the focus of other books. I enjoyed the way Gerhard develops over the course of the book and how I found myself sympathising with his plight. He does terrible things but not through choice. This is an engrossing read.  

Posted in 2022, First Read, Poetry, Victoria Kennefick

Eat or We Both Starve by @VKennefick

A daring first collection from an exciting young Irish poet, tackling how to live with the past and not be consumed by it.

These poems explore the sense of powerlessness a young woman feels growing from childhood to adulthood in a predominantly Irish Catholic society. Restricted, she deems herself simultaneously too small and too big, an Alice in Wonderland. The poems develop an identity cobbled together with scraps from the Bible, snippets of film, favourite poems, the lives of the saints, and a kaleidoscope of memories, and track what emerges when that identity is not sturdy enough to sustain her. Faced with the loss of a loved one and the shock of her own mortality, a weight she has carried subconsciously since childhood, her fragile façade shatters at her feet like porcelain.

The collection viscerally explores bereavement, sex and the defiant female body coming-of-age in Catholic Ireland. Its themes of identity, relationships, sexuality and food, are universal, broad-ranging and would resonate with readers who connect with other young female Irish writers like Sally Rooney, Naoise Dolan and Caoilinn Hughes. The language is vivid, unexpected, intimate and engaging beckoning the reader through the some-times challenging, often unsettling world of a disappearing Catholic Ireland to a newer, shinier psychic space.

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Where did I start?

LEARNING TO EAT MY MOTHER, WHERE MY MOTHER IS THE TEACHER

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(@Carcanet, 25 March 2021, paperback, 84 pages, bought from @SeahorseBookst1 via @bookshop_org_UK)

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This is a new poet for me. I’ve wanted to read Eat or We Both Starve for ages because I’ve read so many rave reviews about it. I enjoyed all of the poems on offer. I liked the range of subject matters and poetic styles in the collection. Some of the subjects covered include cancer, disordered eating and pregnancy. I partially enjoyed Learning to Eat My Mother, where My Mother Is the Teacher, Alternative Medicine and Open Your Mouth. I look forward to reading more of this poet’s work.

Posted in 2022, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, library book, Novel, Popsugar 2022, Zen Cho

Black Water Sister by @zenaldehyde

As Jessamyn packs for Malaysia, it’s not a good time to start hearing a bossy voice in her head. Broke, jobless and just graduated, she’s abandoning America to return ‘home’. But she last saw Malaysia as a toddler – and is completely unprepared for its ghosts, gods and her eccentric family’s shenanigans.

Jess soon learns her ‘voice’ belongs to Ah Ma, her late grandmother. She worshipped the Black Water Sister, a local deity. And when a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge. Now she’s decided Jess will help, whether she wants to or not.

As Ah Ma blackmails Jess into compliance, Jess fights to retain control. But her irrepressible relative isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop her, when she can simply borrow Jess’s body to make mischief. As Jess is drawn ever deeper into a world of peril and family secrets, getting a job becomes the least of her worries.

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The first thing the ghost said to Jess was: Does your mother know you’re a pengkid?

ONE

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(@panmacmillan, 10 June 2021, ebook, 400 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox, #POPSUGARReadingChallenge, a book by a pacific islander author)

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This is a new author for me. I chose it at random as it fit the Popsugar prompt and I’m glad I did at I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I had no idea what to expect from Black Water Sister and it was a treat. The book is very funny at first when Jess’s grandmother haunts her, talks in her head and seizing control of her body which leads to some very funny moments. Thinks get serious when Jess destroys the status of Black Water Sister freeing her angry spirit, seeking revenge for her murder a century ago and Jess see a darker side of her home and her grandmother’s beliefs.

Posted in 2022, Christina Sweeney-Baird, Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, First Read, library book, Novel, Popsugar 2022, Science Fiction

The End of Men by @ChristinaRoseSB

Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would our world truly look like without men?

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.

The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world.

What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the “male plague;” intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

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Do you need to dress up for Halloween if you’re a parent?

BEFORE, CATHERINE

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(@HarperCollinsUK, 29 April 2021, ebook, 414 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveInc, #POPSUGARReadingChallenge, a book about or set in a nonpatriarchal society)

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As this book was released during the covid pandemic I can’t help wonder if the author was already working on it before it hit as the virus is eerily similar to what the world’s been experiencing for the past two years. I thought this was a terrific read. I liked the fact there were multiple narrators who stories were different but had overlaps. I enjoyed books that use multiple POV’s. There are a lot of dark moments in the book but an overall sense of the world just getting on with it and trying to find a new normal in a vastly changed world. This is a terrific book.

Posted in 2022, Contemporary Fiction, Jane Casey, Novel, thriller

The Cutting Place by @JaneCaseyAuthor

Rumours…
Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are outrageous…and what goes on behind closed doors is darker than you could possibly imagine.

Scandals…
Paige Hargreaves was a young journalist working on a story about a club for the most privileged men in London. She was on the brink of exposing a shocking scandal. Then she disappeared.

Secrets…
DS Maeve Kerrigan must immerse herself in the club’s world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour to find out what happened. But Maeve is keeping secrets of her own. Will she uncover the truth? Or will time run out for Maeve first?

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For a few moments, it was the quietest place in London.

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(@HarperCollinsUK, 3 April 2020, ebook, 400 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I’ve read other books by the author featuring Maeve Kerrigan so was looking forward to The Cutting Place. I read a lot of thrillers and I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the way the book depicts the privileged lives of the members of the Charon Club and gradually tears them to pieces. This has the twists and turns you expect from the killer so you never really know how things will play out. This is a gripping thriller.

Posted in 2022, amazon first reads, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Marybeth Whalen, Novel, Popsugar 2022

The Things We Wish Were True by @marybethwhalen

In an idyllic small-town neighbourhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighbourhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbours quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbours’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbours learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

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Cutter and I were there when they opened the Sycamore Glen pool for the summer.

CAILEY

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(Lake Union Publishing, 1 September 2016, ebook, 290 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle, #POPSUGARReadingChallenge, a book whose title begins with the last letter of your previous read)

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This is a new author for me. This was my Amazon First Reads choice back in August 2016 but I didn’t get round to reading it until now. I really enjoyed The Things We Wish Were True. I like the title, it’s compelling and encourages you to pick up the book. I enjoyed the way the author depicts the secrets and darkness simmering under the surface of Sycamore Glen as everyone’s dirty laundry is gradually aired in the open. I’d recommend this as a compelling read.