Normandy Gold #1

Normandy Gold #1

Normandy Gold #1 by Megan Abbot & Alison Gaylin
Published by Titan Books
Ebook
Published 14 June 2017
32 pages
Review Copy

Connect with Megan

Connect with Alison

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

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

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

When her younger sister is found murdered in a D.C. hotel, relentless Sheriff Normandy Gold dives headfirst into the seedy world of prostitution and politics, soon discovering a twisted conspiracy that could lead right to the White House.

EXTRACT 

They were going to call me victory.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I must confess I rarely read graphic novels. I’ve read a few and enjoyed them but tend to forget them because there are so many things to read. Maybe I ought to read more? I really enjoyed Normandy Gold #1I, the first part of a longer story. I loved the character’s name by the way, Normandy Gold, genius. This first volume does a good job laying the foundation of what’s to come. Normandy Gold #1I sets up a lot of questions and not many answers so you need to read further volumes to get the whole picture. I was impressed by the quality of the images on my kindle as well as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read it. I enjoyed Normandy Gold #1 and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Lost Boy ARC

Lost Boy ARC

Lost Boy by Christina Henry
Published by Titan Books
Ebook
Expected publication 4 July 2017
304 pages
Review Copy

Connect with the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

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

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. He wants always to be that shining sun that we all revolve around. He’ll do anything to be that sun. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. Peter Lies.

EXTRACT 

Once I was young, and young forever and always, until I wasn’t. Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I only have a vague understanding of the story of Peter Pan gleamed from Disney movies and the film Hook (which I love by the way). I thought Lost Boy was amazing. I loved that Peter comes across as the villain in the book when stories tend to paint him a hero, the boy who never grew up, who lived on a magical island with the boys who adored him. Lost Boy is darker than I expected. I loved it. I loved the way the most common ideas and themes from Peter Pan are twisted, distorted and a little darker. Jamie is a great narrator. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Lost Boy anymore, Jamie’s real identity is revealed at the end. I probably should have guess who he was but I didn’t so my jaw got bruised when it hit the floor. Well done for fooling me. Lost Boy is fantastic. I’d highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

This Is The End Of The Story

This Is The End Of The Story

This Is The End Of The Story by Jan Fortune
Published by Liquorice Fish Books
Paperback
Published 1 February 2017
206 pages
Owned

Connect with the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Belief is Cassie’s gift, so much so that she believes herself to be whoever those in her life tell her she is Cassie, Kat, Kitty, even, as Miriam insists, Casilda, an 11th century Muslim princess from Toledo. Cassie s loyalty to Miriam s extraordinary internal world survives a traumatic incident on a beach and a coming of age fraught with hostility, but is strained by an act of betrayal that propels her towards Liam, another person waiting to tell Cassie who she really is.

EXTRACT

 She watched Miriam sleep, hair a tangle of soot and pitch. Four years and many defeats ago, Miriam had told her she’d chosen her for three things: the thick fair plait that swung below her waist; that she was so small; and for her name. Cassie thinks of herself as the ram caught in the thicket, the replacement sacrifice when Abraham was no longer compelled to kill his son. She continually warns Miriam not to go looking for trouble. Let’s find another road, she says. But she hadn’t see trouble coming today.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought This Is The End of the Story was great. I found it absorbing. I loved the way the author portrays the intense almost disturbing friendship between Cassie and Miriam. It reminded me a lot of the relationship between the two girls in the movie Heavenly Creatures. The book uses an unusual structure, the narrative is non-linear and there is very little signposting to help ground you in a place or time. I would have expected this to be confusing but it works in This Is The End Of The Story. I loved the way the author portrays the friendship between Miriam and Cassie. I found their obsession with each other fascinating if a little disturbing. Miriam disturbed me. She sees Cassie as more than a friend and is obsessed to the point of jealousy almost as if Cassie is her lover. I loved the way the narrative gradually reveals information drip by drip especially the shocking incident at the beach when both girls are teenagers. I loved This Is The End Of The Story and would highly recommend it.#

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Ashes

Ashes

Ashes by Sarah Mitchell-Jackson
Published by Blue Moon Publishers
Ebook
Expected publication 9 June 2017
240 pages
NetGalley

Connect with the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

When Eva emerges from a burning building, she is unable to remember anything that happened before Dan rescued her. Where will she go until someone claims her?

Dan wants to keep her to fill the space which is growing between him and his wife. Can they heal together or will grief pull them apart?

Carrie-Anne lives in a grainy fug of depression, alcohol and denial, sleeping through days and drinking away nights. Can she find the strength to tie up loose ends?

OPENING 

The house was well under way by the time they got there.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

Ashes is one of the saddest books I’ve read in a while. The ending actually made me cry. I thought something good was going to happen then the author took out my heart and ate it in front of me while laughing. I was not prepared for that. Ashes is really well written and a great read. Each time I sat down at my Kindle I got lost in Eva’s world. I liked the way the novel is structured with chapters written from Eva’s point of view, Dan who Eva lived with for a while and Carrie-Anne, her real mother. I like reading different perspectives. Ashes is an enjoyable read and I’d recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Published by Faber and Faber
Paperback
Published 2 March 2006
282 pages
Owned

Connect with the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book buy an author from a country you’ve never visited’.  

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have re-entered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.

EXTRACT 

My name is Kathy H.

WHAT I THOUGHT

My confession: I saw the movie a few years ago and loved it so I knew how things turned out. A book is always a richer experience than a movie though. I absolutely adored this book. It’s one of the most unsettling books I’ve read in a while. Kathy H is a brilliant, unreliable narrator. She’s unreliable because she reveals so little about her society and Hailsham and being a carer or a donor while seeing to be sharing a lot of information. Kathy H is quite a detached person and she reveals what should be horrifying details about her world in a sort of detached, nonchalant kind of way, not bothering to get emotional or upset because this is just the way things are. What fascinated me the most and chilled me to the bone is how little information is given about what being a carer or a donor in Kathy H’s world really means. Nothing is clearly stated until about three chapters from the end and information is just drip fed along the way. Never Let Me Go is chilling and unsettling and horrifying plausible. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Slaughter-House Five

Slaughter-House Five

Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Published by Rosetta Books
Ebook
Published 1 July 2010 (first published 1969)
285 pages
Prime Reading

Find out more about the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

War is inevitable, and it is absurd. The main theme of the book focuses on this. Billy Pilgrim is a prisoner-of-war at the hands of the Germans. He is captured and put in a disused slaughterhouse, which eventually proves to be a safe ‘shelter’ when his life is spared during the bombing of Dresden.

Billy is a fatalist. Barely out of childhood, his lack of enthusiasm for war and the eventual consequences of the war on his life is what makes up the story of Billy’s life. Vonnegut uses Billy to show that war is unnecessarily glorified, due to which people overlook the real tragedies and trauma that war actually brings with it.

Billy’s journey through time and space, his accounts of the bombing at Dresden, and his life as a prisoner of war, all highlight the central theme in the novel, war is nothing but another form of hell. Dark humour and irony is what makes Slaughterhouse-Five unique and a perfect example of creative accomplishment. It conveys the bitterness of war, while providing comic relief along with crucial understanding of the working of the human mind.

EXTRACT 

All this happened, more or less. The war parts anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war. And so on. I’ve changed all the names.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I’ve heard Slaughter-House Five lauded as one of the greatest novels of all time. So I thought I’d give it a try. I wish I hadn’t bothered. I really don’t get the point of it all. I have the vaguest notion of what I just read. WTF? I get that the book is clearly anti-war and probably has an important message to say but it just left me cold. Is Billy really abducted by aliens or is he just hallucinating? Reading other reviews it seems to be assumed he was abducted but I felt this wasn’t clear for me in the book. I really love books with time travel but I just found Slaughter-House Five a jumbled and confusing mess. The whole premise isn’t put together very well. Is it an anti-ware satire? Is it science fiction? Make up your mind please, because if the book is both of these things it doesn’t hold together well. If Billy is abducted by aliens I fail to see what relevant his experience as a prisoner of war has? I felt Slaughter-House Five was a confusing mess (in a bad way) and I wouldn’t recommend it. I wouldn’t read any of Vonnegut’s books either.

RATING

2 STAR RATING

If We Were Villains ARC

If We Were Villains ARC

If We Were Villains by M.L Rio
Published by Titan Books
Ebook
Expected publication 16 June 2017
400 pages
Review Copy

Connect with the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

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

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

EXTRACT

 I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and think, But that I am forbid / To tell the secrets of my prison house / I could tale unfold whose lightest word I would harrow up thy soul. The guard stands by the door, watching me, like he’s waiting for something to happen.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

If We Were Villains is a great read and held my attention from start to finish. This book reminded me a lot of The Secret History by Donna Tartt which is also a great read. I liked the layout of the book, split into scenes and acts like a play. The characters are all well-written and really come to life, especially Oliver who is a great first person narrator. The book is a little darker than I expected at times but this works really well. If We Were Villains has an almighty twist towards the end when Oliver reveals what really happened the night his friend died. A twist can work really well or completely ruin the book depending on how it’s written. Rio really pulls it off. I had no idea what really happened so the truth floored me a little. My only issue is that Richard, the murdered friend, gradually turns into a cartoon-like villain in the weeks leading up to his death so when he breathes his last his friends are sort of relieved. I thought this was a bit over the top. Nevertheless, If We Were Villains is a great mystery and well worth a read if you’re tired of police procedurals.

RATING

4 STAR RATING