#Fool by @GretaStoddart

When knowledge is ours at the tap of a key, what is it we’re accumulating, and is it at the expense of another, more intuitive, kind of knowing? The word ‘fool’ derives from the Latin follis, one of whose meanings is ‘empty-headed person’. Such mindlessness is not quite imaginable, but perhaps it is possible that by unknowing a thing we can start to see it differently. There’s a lot the fool doesn’t know – otherwise they wouldn’t be a fool – but can anyone be trusted to know anything? A low-level hum of discordance runs through these poems: between inner and outer worlds, between the sceptical and the wondering mind. Ideas of belief and truth play out in various ways, often through lone figures, fools maybe, thinking aloud, continually distracted by the necessary performance of being. Fool is Greta Stoddart’s fourth collection. Her third collection Alive Alive O was published by Bloodaxe in 2015.

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I know it’s been years

but I want to speak out now

for that girl who used to sit on the bench

in a shapeless frock,

with an orange and brown diamond pattern

no one would seriously wear –

her hair greased and parted down the middle

her face a powdered white.

***

(@BloodaxeBooks, 15 September 2022, 72 pages, #ARC from the publisher via @edelweiss_squad)

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This is a new poet for me. First off, I really liked the front cover, cute and appealing. It made me want to read the collection. I enjoyed the poems on offer here. The poems are quite humorous at times but had a more serious side as well. I liked the style, tone and structure of the pieces. I really enjoyed this collection and would recommend it.  

#DarkBreakers by @csecooney

A young human painter and an ageless gentry queen fall in love over spilled wine-at the risk of his life and her immortality. Pulled into the Veil between Worlds, two feuding neighbours (and a living statue) get swept up in a brutal war of succession. An investigative reporter infiltrates the Seafall City Laundries to write the exposé of a lifetime and uncovers secrets she never believed possible. Returning to an oak grove to scatter her husband’s ashes, an elderly widow meets an otherworldly friend, who offers her a momentous choice. Two gentry queens of the Valwode plot to hijack a human rocket ship and steal the moon out of the sky.

Dark Breakers gathers three new and two previously uncollected tales from World Fantasy Award-winning writer C. S. E. Cooney that expand on the thrice-enfolded world’s first introduced in her Locus and World Fantasy award-nominated novella Desdemona and the Deep. In her introduction to Dark Breakers, Crawford Award-winning author Sharon Shinn advises those who pick up this book to “settle in for a fantastical read” full of “vivid world-building, with layer upon layer of detail; prose so dense and gorgeous you can scoop up the words like handfuls of jewels; a mischievous sense of humour; and a warm and hopeful heart.”

***

Elliot Howell considered the glittering company about to assemble in the dining room and sighed.

1: THE VOLUPTUIST

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(@mythicdelirium, 15 February 2022, ebook, 424 pages, #ARC from the publisher via @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed)

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AMAZON (UK)

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This is a new author for me. I requested a copy of Dark Breakers after I saw it promoted on Twitter. It sounded like something I’d enjoy. This is a collection of stories set in a world created by the author in other books and featuring recurring characters. I struggled with the first story. I enjoyed it but felt something was missing because I wasn’t familiar with the other books. This didn’t apply to the other stories in the collection which I found thoroughly enjoyable. I was impressed with the amount of world building and level of detail in the stories. I will definitely read more of the author’s work.

#OutFrontTheFollowingSea by @leahangstman

Out Front the Following Sea is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned—it is a death sentence. At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor—Owen—bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.

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November came.

CHAPTER FIRST

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(@RegalHouse1, 11 January 2022, ebook, 312 pages, #ARC from the publisher via @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed)

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AMAZON (UK)

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I’d never heard of King William’s War between French and English settlers before so Out Front the Following Sea appealed to me because it was about a period of history I had no knowledge of. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction over the past few years. I really enjoyed this book. It took a few chapters to get into because the book contains a lot of description and detail and the language is quite dense at times. What kept me flicking the pages is Ruth, a brilliantly written character, a feisty, opinionated woman in an era when women are killed for less. I was also impressed by the historical detail.

The Taste of Ginger by @mansiwrites

In Mansi Shah’s stunning debut novel, a family tragedy beckons a first-generation immigrant to the city of her birth, where she grapples with her family’s past in search of where she truly belongs.

After her parents moved her and her brother to America, Preeti Desai never meant to tear her family apart. All she did was fall in love with a white Christian carnivore instead of a conventional Indian boy. Years later, with her parents not speaking to her and her controversial relationship in tatters, all Preeti has left is her career at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm.

But when Preeti receives word of a terrible accident in the city where she was born, she returns to India, where she’ll have to face her estranged parents…and the complicated past they left behind. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of her heritage, Preeti catches a startling glimpse of her family’s battles with class, tradition, and sacrifice. Torn between two beautifully flawed cultures, Preeti must now untangle what home truly means to her.

***

A gaggle of women, all speaking over each other in loud, animated voices, filled my parent’s small living room.

1

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(Lake Union Publishing, 1 January 2022, ebook, 317 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle, #AmazonFirstReads)

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It took a while to get into The Taste of Ginger. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it at first. The issue I had was the main character, Preeti. I really struggled to connect with her and find any emotional connection. I really didn’t like her. I thought she was a whiny pain. It took a good few chapters for me to warm to her and start to get behind her. When this happened I really started to enjoy the book. I enjoyed the way she develops across the book. This is a pleasure to read.

2021 On The Book Lover’s Boudoir

I read 533 books in 2021.

2021 factoids:

How Much I Read / Listened

  • 144,673 pages read
  • Burned through 145 hours 206 minutes of audio

Fiction or Nonfiction

  • 511 fiction titles
  • 22 nonfiction titles

Where authors hail from

  • 286 UK authors
  • 148 US authors
  • 99 authors from around the globe

Male / Female

  • 346 female authors
  • 179 male authors
  • 8 books with multiple authors

Formats

  • 11 audiobooks
  • 500 digital books
  • 22 print books

Genres

  • Children’s = 2
  • Contemporary = 134
  • Cosy Mystery = 3
  • Crime = 3
  • Essays = 4
  • Fantasy = 46
  • General Nonfiction = 8
  • Historical Crime = 2
  • Historical Fiction = 51
  • Horror = 16
  • Literary Fiction = 5
  • Memoir = 6
  • Poetry Collections = 60
  • Science Fiction = 18
  • Short Story Collections = 32
  • Thrillers = 134
  • True Crime= 10
  • YA = 9

Sources

  • Amazon First Reads = 14
  • Amazon Vine = 3
  • ARC = 53
  • Audible = 11
  • Big Library Read = 1
  • Blog Tour = 116
  • Edelweiss = 12
  • Library Books = 100
  • NetGalley = 32
  • Owned = 145
  • Prime Reading = 37
  • Review Copy = 9

Ratings

  • 1-star read’s = 0
  • 2-star read’s = 4
  • 3-star read’s = 27
  • 4-star read’s = 359
  • 5-star read’s = 143

My books of the year for 2021:

My best read of 2021:

December 2021 Round-Up on the Book Lover’s Boudoir

I read 32 books this month.

December factoids:

How Much I Read/Listened

  • 6,585 pages read
  • Burned through 27 hours 28 minutes of audio

Fiction or Nonfiction

  • 31 fiction titles
  • 1 nonfiction titles

Where authors hail from

  • 10 UK authors
  • 12 US authors
  • 10 authors from around the globe

Male / Female

  • 23 female authors
  • 9 male authors

Formats

  • 29 digital books
  • 1 print book
  • 2 audiobooks

Genres

  • Contemporary = 6
  • Children’s = 1
  • Crime = 1
  • Fantasy = 3
  • General Nonfiction = 1
  • Literary Fiction = 1
  • Poetry = 3
  • Science Fiction = 6
  • Thrillers = 9
  • YA = 1

Sources

  • Amazon First Reads = 1
  • Audible = 2
  • Library Books = 9
  • NetGalley = 2
  • Owned = 6
  • Prime Reading = 10
  • Review Copy = 1
  • Edelweiss = 1

Ratings

  • 1-star read’s = 0
  • 2-star read’s = 0
  • 3-star read’s = 0
  • 4-star read’s = 26
  • 5-star read’s = 6

My book of the Month for December:  

 

Burntcoat by Sarah Hall

In the bedroom above her immense studio at Burntcoat, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness is making her final preparations. The symptoms are well known: her life will draw to an end in the coming days.

Downstairs, the studio is a crucible glowing with memories and desire. It was here, when the first lockdown came, that she brought Halit. The lover she barely knew. A presence from another culture. A doorway into a new and feverish world.

***

Those who tell stories to survive.

(@FaberBooks, 5 October 2021, ebook, 224 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveInc)

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I’ve enjoyed other books by the author so wanted to read Burntcoat as soon as I heard about it. I really loved this book. It’s a short book, more of a novella but so much is packed into the scant pages it felt like a book 400 or 500 pages long. I read it in one sitting because I was so submerged in Edith and her world. The book uses a stream of consciousness style which doesn’t always work for me but fits this book perfectly. We are taken deep into Edith’s psyche as she recalls her life and moves between different memories. Its clear Edith’s illness is inspired by the current pandemic but this is just a side-line to the story, a springboard for events that unfold. This is a terrific read.

Love The Way You Lie by @lisaunger

What’s drawn four damaged people back to haunted land? The answer could destroy them all in a gripping short story about trapped memories and the lies we tell ourselves.

Matthew, Claire, and Mason haven’t been back to Merle House since the summer they were sixteen. They tried for years to put their history behind them, to forget the mystery of the girl who vanished so long ago. But a powerful force from their past is still at play. This time, there’s no hiding from it.

Love the Way You Lie is part of House of Crows, a four-part serial about friends with a shard history of darkness. They’ve spent their lives running, but they can no longer hide from the past. Each story can be read or listened to in a single haunted sitting.

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The next day, fifteen-year-old Matthew had all but forgotten about Mason, the trip to Havenwood and the Dark Man.

1

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(Amazon Original Stories, 27 May 2021, ebook, 76 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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Events in the previous volumes come full circle in Love the Way You Lie. We discover the truth about Merle House. The dark secrets from the past of all four friends are finally out in the open. We also lean who the Dark Man really is. This is the most gripping in the series and I was hooked. I liked the way all of the story threads and strands come together.  

Circling The Drain by @lisaunger

Is it a hoax, or is it something unspeakably real? In this short story about evil games and spiralling secrets, whatever bargain you strike, there’s a price to be paid.

Mason Brandt dropped out of seminary and found a job at a spiritual centre offering guidance to troubled teens. Mason was on himself years ago – a suspect in a young girl’s disappearance. When a female student is found murdered. Mason is dogged by suspicion and flees. He hopes Merle House will offer him sanctuary once again.

Circling the Drain is part of House of Crows, a four-part serial about friends with a shared history of darkness. They’ve spent their lives running, but they can no longer hide from the past. Each story can be read or listened to in a single haunted sitting.

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People had so many problems.

1

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(Amazon Original Stories, 27 May 2021, ebook, 60 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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Circling the Drain introduces the fourth character with links to sinister Merle House. The first chapters focus on Mason’s story before he connects with the other three at Merle House. The concept of supernatural menace is introduced in the figure of the Dark Man, a local legendary monster. But what if he’s real? We also learn more about how the four characters are connected in the past. I found this even more gripping then the previous volumes.

Fog Descending by @lisaunger

A grief-stricken spiritualist thought his faith in life after death was broken. Until the ghosts of his past come calling in this short story of believing in what can’t be seen.

Driven by an uncanny mystery from his youth, Ian Randall became a “spiritual cleanser,” ridding disturbances from homes. But his belief in the beyond was challenged by his wife’s death. Merle House, the root of Ian’s obsession, could change that. The woods are restless again. Maybe here, Ian will find what he needs—if he’s willing to make a deal with the dark.

Fog Descending is part 2 of House of Crows, a four-part serial about friends with a shared history of darkness. They’ve spent their lives running, but they can no longer hide from the past. Each story can be read or listened to in a single haunted sitting.

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Ian liked to come at night, alone.

1

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(Amazon Original Stories, 27 May 2021, ebook, 56 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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I enjoyed the first tale in House of Crows so was looking forward to finding out what happens next. The first pages of this story introduce a new character, Ian, linked to the house because he’s obsessed with its dark history. Events then pick up where they left off for Matthew and Claire. I enjoyed learning more about the house’s past and the darkness in the past of all the characters. As this is the second volume in a serial I was left looking forward to the next entry and had a lot of questions.

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