The Futures ARC

The Futures ARC

NETThe Futures by Anna Pitoniak
Published by Penguin
Ebook
Expected publication 1 June 2017
400 pages
NetGalley

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I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

A stunning debut novel set in New York City that explores a relationship from two sides. What happens when life gets in the way?

This is a story about falling in love, and of a relationship that’s falling apart.

It’s the story of a young couple, graduating from Yale and moving to New York in search of the shared future they’d always dreamed about. Of crisp morning strolls through Central Park, taxi horns and the bustle of tourists, salty hot pretzels and the glitter of Broadway and long summer days that stretch like shadows across the sidewalk.

It’s a story of high expectations and missed opportunities, of growing up, taking chances and making terrible mistakes.

This is Evan and Julia’s story.

This is a love story.

But nobody said it ends happily.

OPENING 

It was story that made sense.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I ended up really enjoying The Futures. For a while I wasn’t sure I was going to. I couldn’t get into it. I didn’t really like the characters and found them whiny and petulant. I’ve just graduated from Uni and I am a bright young thing and the world has not opened before me. Boo, hoo, welcome to the world. Nothing seemed to be happening, just two people drifting apart as they adjusted to life after Uni and formed their real identities. But then something happened and I started to warm to The Futures, Evan and Julia and their struggles. Life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. I’m 36 and am unhappy aspects of my life. The turning moment for me came when Julia does something very naïve and stupid. The fallout is not what she intended but something she caused nevertheless. I started too really like The Futures after this. The Futures perfectly captures what it feels like to be caught between being a teenager and an adult when you’re a grown up but still need your Mum to give you a hug. I would recommend The Futures.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Blood Sisters ARC

Blood Sisters ARC

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry
Published by Penguin
Paperback
Expected publication 4 May 2017
400 pages
ARC

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I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it. A paperback came through my letterbox one day with a miniature bottle of Jacob’s Creek.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.  Within an hour, one of them is dead. 

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.

Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.

And only another life will do…

OPENING 

Careful. It’s not the size that counts. It’s the sharpness. And the angle. The blade must sing. Not scratch.

WHAT I THOUGHT

My mind is reeling after finishing Blood Sisters. First off, I loved this book. I could not stop reading once I started and had to tear myself away for stuff like sleep and eating. This is an example of the kind of thriller I love where you think it’s about A or B and gradually discover you have no idea what the hell is going on. Blood Sisters is a great example of unreliable narration, all of the characters were bullshitting you and everyone else (and sometimes they didn’t even know they were doing this). I cannot quite get my head around how many twists and turns and misdirection’s there were. WTF was really going on? Who killed who? Who went to prison for what again? Colour me confused. I love it, love it when an author completely confuses me and leads me screaming down the garden path. Blood Sisters is amazing. Highly recommend. Go out and read it now. You know you want to.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Portable Childhoods

Portable Childhoods

Portable Childhoods by Ellen Klages
Published by Tachyon Publications
Ebook
Published 23 March 2007
210 pages
Review copy

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I was given a review copy by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Portable Childhoods offers a tantalizing glimpse of what lies hidden just beyond the ordinary. Described by reviewers as timeless, delightful, chilling, and beautiful, this is short fiction at its best, emerging from a distinctive, powerful voice. The collection includes the Nebula Award–winning novelette “Basement Magic.”

OPENING 

From Basement Magic

MARY LOUISE WHITAKER believes in magic. She knows that somewhere else, there must be dragons and princes, wands and wishes. Especially wishes. And happily ever after. Ever after is not now

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I thought Portable Childhoods was a fantastic collection of stories. I enjoyed each and every one. Most collections, I find, contain at least one dud, a story that just doesn’t work. That wasn’t the story this time around. Each story is strong and earns a place in the collection. I thought they were all fantastic. I enjoyed them all so much I struggled to picks some favourites but managed in the end. The best stories are Basement Magic, Triangle, Flying over Water, A Taste of Summer and Portable Childhoods. The stand out best story was Guys Day Out which made me cry like a baby. This story about a father and his Down’s syndrome son is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. I thought this was a great collection of stories and I’d highly recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Recipe For Water

Recipe For Water

Recipe For Water by Gillian Clarke
Published by Carcanet Press
Ebook
Published 1 January 2009
80 pages
Library book

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Using water as a contemplative device, this anthology examines themes of war, womanhood, time, and the environment. Individual poems focus on a range of topics–from the seemingly unremarkable contents of a bottle of spring water to the more global issue of rising ocean levels. Rain, drought, flood, thirst, rivers, and oceans inspire this thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between water and language.

EXTRACT

From First Words

The alphabet of a house – air,
breath, the creak of the stair.
Downstairs the grown up’s hullabaloo
or their hush as you fall asleep…

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought Recipe for Water was a good collection of poems but maybe not great. I enjoyed some poems and didn’t enjoy others. There are a lot of nature poems in this collection and I didn’t enjoy them as much. This is not a fault of the poet’s; they were all vivid and well-written but didn’t suit my tastes as much. I enjoyed the poems that moved away from nature and focused of people and experiences a lot more such as A T-Mail to Keats, Man in a Shower, In the Taj, Reader’s Digest Atlas of the World and Kites. This collection does contain some good poems and is well worth a read.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari by James Morrow
Published by Tachyon Publications
Ebook
Expected publication 13 June 2017
192 pages
Review copy

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I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

The infamous Dr. Caligari: psychiatrist or psychopath? In this wry and satiric tour de force, award-winning author James Morrow (Towing JehovahThe Last Witchfinder) offers a surprising and provocative take on a silent film classic.

In the summer of 1914, the world teeters on the brink of the Great War. An American painter, Francis Wyndham, is hired to provide art therapy at a renowned European asylum, working under the auspices of its mysterious director, Alessandro Caligari. Francis is soon beguiled by his most talented student, Ilona Wessels, whose genius with a brush is matched only by the erotic intensity of her madness.

Deep in his secret studio, Dr. Caligari, rumoured to be a sorcerer, struggles to create Ecstatic Wisdom, an immense painting so hypnotic it can incite entire regiments to rush headlong into battle. Once Francis and Ilona grasp Caligari’s scheme in all its supernatural audacity, they conspire to defeat him with a magical work of their own…

OPENING 

From its birth during the Age of Reason until its disappearance following the Treaty of Versailles, the tiny principality of Wizenstaat lay along the swampy seam between the German Empire and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg like an embolism lodged in an artery.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed this novella, inspired by the movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I loved the prose style. Morris knows how to tell a story. As I was reading, I was reminded time and again of some horror greats including Dracula and Frankenstein. The novella has that air of old fashioned, spooky, black and white horror movie about it. The relationship between Wyndham and mad Ilona was disturbing. I enjoyed the intense, madness of it all. Dr Caligari was a great villain. I could imagine him, locked away in a dark room, cackling with glee while the world burned around him. I enjoyed the plan Wyndham and his conspirators come up with to stop Caligari’s madness. Their plan was almost as mad as his. I had a good time with The Asylum of Dr Caligari and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Wonder

Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Published by Corgi Children’s
Paperback
Published 3 January 2013
410 pages
Owned

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I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book by or about a person who has a disability’.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. Hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.

EXTRACT 

I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I loved Wonder, I thought it was brilliant; sad, funny, moving, heart-breaking and life affirming. I fell in love with August and his life as he adjusts to going to school for the first time, makes some real friends and discovers some people just never get over themselves. I liked the fact the book is narrated by different people, not just August. I wasn’t expecting this and it works really well, seeing how August’s face affects everyone around him. There are a lot of sad moments in Wonder and I really wanted to give August a hug. I was bullied and can appreciate how much worse it must have been for August. I liked the different perspectives of events and how the real story wasn’t always what August thought it was. August is a great character and I loved being inside his head. The happy ending was a bit twee but I still loved it. I also thought Summer was awesome and a very genuine person. I adored Wonder and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR

Wicked Wonders

Wicked Wonders

Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages
Published by Tachyon Publications
Ebook
Expected publication 16 May 2017
240 pages
Review copy

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I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it. 

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

The Scott O’Dell award-winning author of The Green Glass Sea returns with her second collection: a new decade of lyrical stories with vintage flair.

Inside of these critically-acclaimed tales are memorable characters who are smart, subversive, and singular. A rebellious child identifies with wicked Maleficent instead of Sleeping Beauty. Best friends Anna and Corry share a last melancholy morning before emigration to another planet. A prep-school girl requires more than mere luck to win at dice with a faerie. Ladies who lunch keeping dividing that one last bite of dessert in the paradox of female politeness.

Whether on a habitat on Mars or in a boarding-house in London, discover Ellen Klages’ wicked, wondrous adventures full of brazenness, wit, empathy, and courage.

OPENING

From The Education of a Witch

Lizzy is an untidy, intelligent child. Her dark hair resists combs, framing her face like thistles. Her clothes do not stay clean or tucked in or pressed. Some days, they do not stay on. Her arms and face are nut-brown, her bare legs sturdy and grimy.

WHAT I THOUGHT

This is my first time reading the author.

I thought this collection of strange, unsettling stories was hugely enjoyable. Each story has an air of the weird, strange or mystery about and in some cases you really don’t know what’s going on until you reach the end – and even then you don’t get all the answers. For the most part I enjoyed the stories. My personal favourites were The Education of a Witch, Amicae Aeternum and Singing on a Star (which is amazing by the way). The other stories were good just not quite as great as these three which will stay with me for a long time. I really liked the author’s voice and style. Even though some of the stories dealt with crazy, fantastical events they are written in a matter that suggests everyday events are taking place. No oh my God, there’s a three headed-demon going to eat us all, more, oh, look that demon has a nice skin-tone. I just really liked this. I got lost in these stories for a while which is a good thing.

RATING

4 STAR RATING