Posted in 2019, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, J.P. Carter, NetGally, Novel, thriller

Little Boy Lost by @JPCarterAuthor

Innocence is no protection against evil…

One early October afternoon, ten-year-old Jacob Rossi begins the short walk home from school. But he never makes it.

 
Days later, DCI Anna Tate is called to the scene of a burning building, where an awful discovery has been made. A body has been found, and the label in his school blazer reads: J. Rossi.

 
As Anna starts digging, she soon learns that a lot of people had grudges against the boy’s father. But would any of them go so far as to take his son?

And is the boy’s abductor closer than she thinks?

***

[The tension was mounting in the back of the armed response van as it sped towards its destination]  

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(Avon Books, 23 January 2020, 400 pages, ebook, ARC from @AvonBooksUK via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed #BlogTour 28 January 2020)

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I’d never heard of the author before but I love crime fiction and the blurb intrigued me. I had a great time reading this so I’ve clearly missed out. I have another must read to author to add to my rather large list. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is that the author uses a sort of story-within-a-story structure that I haven’t come across in crime fiction before. I thought this worked really well. The main story focuses on investigating Jacob Rossi’s death. The investigation happens to coincide with riots across the city that spill out into surrounding towns. There is an interesting sub plot around what happens to Anna’s daughter during the riots which is separate from the police investigation. I wondered where this was going to lead and I enjoyed the way the book alternated between this and the police investigation. This was a nice touch. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it as a police procedural that offers something a bit different.  

Posted in 2020, Audible, audible original podcast, Non-Fiction, Podcast

@JohnSafran vs The Occult

John Safran has fallen in with the wrong crowd, again. He has spent months among sorcerers, Satanists, and exorcists and he’s spilling the beans in a new podcast.

Forget gentle white witches and tarot card readers. John packs his bag and fearlessly heads off to places where black magic leads not only to exorcisms but… murder. He flies to the US and investigates a gang who murdered a teenage girl for disturbing their satanic shrine. He sails to remote islands in Vanuatu, where laws have been passed to quash witchcraft and contravening them can lead to a public hanging or exile. Back in his hometown of Melbourne, he spends time with a Muslim professional who, convinced she is possessed by spirits, seeks an Islamic exorcism.

John discovers that a belief in Black Magic can hold people together, and tear people apart. But why, in this world of science and rationality, are so many around the world still fearful of dark spirit realms? And what are police and psychologists meant to do to rein all this in?

***

(Audible Original, 18 November 2019, 3 hours, audiobook, @audibleuk Original Podcast, free with membership)

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I really enjoyed this podcast. It wasn’t exactly what I expected but I found it engaging and entertaining all the same. Two of the episodes deal solely with one case, a teacher murdered in Vanuatu, an alleged victim of witchcraft and the mob who butchered his alleged killers on the instructions of their tribal leader, all contravene to the regular law in force on the island. These episodes were as chilling and horrific as they were fascinating. I wanted to hear more about the island and their customs and rituals. The US killing of a girl who disturbed a satanic shrine also chilled me. Well worth a listen!

Posted in 2019, Annual Round-Up, General Book Stuff

2019 Round-Up on the Book Lover’s Boudoir

I read 663 books in 2019.

2019 factoids:

  • 144,052 pages read
  • Burned through 740 hours 2 minutes of audio
  • 575 fiction titles
  • 88 nonfiction titles
  • 244 UK authors
  • 303 US authors
  • 116 authors from around the globe
  • 367 female authors
  • 243 male authors
  • 53 books with multiple authors
  • 100 audiobooks
  • 454 digital books
  • 109 print books
  • 50 books for Popsugar Reading Challenge
  • 52 books for Around The Year In 52 Books
  • 50 books for A Year Of Epic Reads
  • 15 Children’s
  • 8 Classic
  • 13 Comedy
  • 143 Contemporary
  • 8 Crime
  • 1 Essays
  • 28 Fantasy
  • 35 General Nonfiction
  • 2 Gothic Horror
  • 4 Graphic Novel
  • 12 Historical Crime
  • 22 Historical Fiction
  • 6 Historical Nonfiction
  • 34 Horror
  • 2 LGBT
  • 18 Literary Fiction
  • 3 Literature Non-Fiction
  • 18 Memoirs
  • 2 Myth Non-Fiction
  • 8 Plays
  • 102 Poetry Collections
  • 1 Romantic Fiction
  • 15 Science Fiction
  • 1 Self Help Non-Fiction
  • 44 Short Story Collections
  • 2 Suspense
  • 59 Thrillers
  • 9 True Crime
  • 33 YA
  • 92 ARC’s
  • 10 Amazon First Reads
  • 14 Amazon Vine
  • 3 Audible
  • 2 Big Library Read
  • 12 Kindle Lending Library
  • 95 Library Books
  • 22 NetGalley Titles
  • 306 Owned Books
  • 50 Prime Reading
  • 56 Review Copies
  • 1 Together We Read
  • 1-star read’s = 21
  • 2-star read’s = 28
  • 3-star read’s = 61
  • 4-star read’s = 358
  • 5-star read’s = 195

My books of the Month for 2019:


My Book Of The Year:

Posted in 2019, General Book Stuff, Monthly Round-Up

December Round-Up on the Book Lover’s Boudoir

I read 62 books in December.

December factoids:

  • 16,140 pages read
  • Burned through 22 hours 19 minutes of audio
  • 59 fiction titles
  • 3 nonfiction titles
  • 30 UK authors
  • 22 US authors
  • 10 authors from around the globe
  • 36 female authors
  • 23 male authors
  • 3 books with multiple authors
  • 2 audiobooks
  • 39 digital books
  • 21 print books
  • 3 books for A Year of Epic Reads
  • 3 Children’s
  • 2 Classics
  • 17 Contemporary
  • 6 Fantasy
  • 2 General Non-Fiction
  • 1 Graphic Novel
  • 3 Historical Fiction
  • 1 Horror
  • 1 Literary
  • 1 Memoir
  • 10 Poetry
  • 1 Science Fiction
  • 8 Short Story Collections
  • 4 Thrillers
  • 2 YA
  • 1 Amazon First Read
  • 5 Amazon Vine
  • 8 ARC’s
  • 1 Kindle Owner’s Lending Library
  • 22 Library Books
  • 1 NetGalley
  • 13 Owned
  • 6 Prime Reading
  • 5 Review Copies
  • 1-star read’s = 2
  • 2-star read’s = 3
  • 3-star read’s = 8
  • 4-star read’s = 31
  • 5-star read’s = 18

My favourite read in December:

Posted in 2019, cj skuse, Contemporary Fiction, Novel, Prime Reading, thriller

Sweetpea by @CJSkuse

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

***

[Well, my New Year has certainly gone off with a bang, I don’t know about yours]  

***

(HQ, 20 April 2017, 473 pages, ebook, borrowed from @AmazonKindle #PrimeReading)

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I recently read the author’s novel Monster and was impressed so decided to check out Sweetpea and see how I felt about her other work. I loved the idea behind Sweetpea and it works on some levels but also fails in some areas as well. It doesn’t quite work for me. I loved the idea of the book being narrated by a female sociopath and a serial killer. I thought this would be interesting. This really works in some areas and at times the book is really funny. However, the book is very repetitive at times. There are kill lists at the start of every chapter with people who have pissed Sweetpea off enough to be on her kill radar. These lists quickly cease to have any point and I found myself skipping them. I appreciate the narrator is a serial killer but the violence is a little much even for me. The biggest failing is that Sweetpea ceases to be anything other than a stereotype. She is a monster with no redeeming qualities. It’s hard to get behind someone so empty.

Posted in 2019, ARC, carrie vaughn, First Read, historical fiction, Horror Fiction, Review Copy, Short Fiction

The Immortal Conquistador by Carrie Vaughn

Discover the deadly origins of the noble immortal Rick, ally to bestselling author Carrie Vaughn’s fan-favourite werewolf, Kitty Norville.

Ricardo de Avila would have followed Coronado to the ends of the earth. Instead, Ricardo found the end of his mortal life, and a new one, as a renegade vampire.

For over five hundred years, Ricardo has upset the established order. He has protected his found family from marauding demons, teamed up with a legendary gunslinger, appointed himself the Master of Denver, and called upon a church buried under the Vatican. He has tended bar and fended off evil werewolves.

Life for a vampire is always long, but for Rick, it is never uncomplicated.

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[RICK SLUNG HIS BAG over his shoulder, descended the steel staircase from the plane to the tarmac, and set foot in Europe for the first time in five hundred years]

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(Tachyon Publications, 13 March 2020, 192 pages, ebook, #ARC from @TachyonPub and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’d never heard of the author before or Kitty Norville. Clearly I’ve been missing out. I really enjoyed this book so will probably check out more work by the author. I have a fondness for vampire fiction and the more original and interesting the better. The Immortal Conquistador ticks all the boxes for me. The world building is excellent considering Ricardo lives through different eras in the book. Ricardo is not like typical vampires in fiction as he has a heart of gold and appears more human than monster. The Immortal Conquistador starts with Ricardo’s origins when he’s turned into a vampire. I enjoyed every tale on offer here.

Posted in 2019, Anita Frank, ARC, First Read, ghost story, historical fiction, NetGalley, Novel

#TheLostOnes by @Ajes74

Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

 
Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

***

[The brass plaque, polished so it shone like burnished gold was mounted pride of place on the chantey wall – a new, if unwelcome addition to the village church]

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(HQ, 31 October 2019, 464 pages, ebook, copy from @HQstories via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I love ghost stories but prefer subtle ones that revolve around hauntings and unseen things making strange noises in the night. I dislike gory, in-your-face horror. The Lost Ones is exactly the kind of ghost story that I love. This is a gripping book and I was caught up in the strange atmosphere of the house and the secrets all of the characters are hiding. This is an impressive debut. I look forward to what Franks has in store next. I found all of the characters, even Stella quite unsympathetic and nasty. However, this didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book.

Posted in 2019, chase twichell, First Read, library book, National Poetry Library, Poetry, Top Books

Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been by @chasetwichell

Selected from six award-winning books, this volume collects the best of Twichell’s meditative and startling poems. A long-time student of Zen Buddhism, Twichell probes how the self-changes over time and how the perception of self affects the history and meaning of our lives. Her poems exhibit a deep and urgent love of the natural world amidst ecological decimation, while also delving into childhood memories and the surprise and nourishment that come from radical shifts in perception.

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[Above the blood prairies / the sky is all colour and water / The future moves / from one part to another: INLAND]

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(Copper Canyon Press, 1 June 2013, first published 2010, 200 pages, ebook, borrowed from @natpoetrylib via @OverDriveLibs)

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I’ve read the poet before in various anthologies but never a full collection. If the quality of the poems on offer here is anything to go by, I’ve clearly been missing out. The poems are outstanding. I loved every poem and every word of every poem. The poems are narrative and really spoke to me. The language and imagery used is moving, rich and detailed. A lot of modern poetry can be very full and static. Twichell’s poems are alive in a way I haven’t seen for a long time. The poems are simply astonishing. They will stay with me for a long time. Twichell has been added to my must read poet’s list.

Posted in 2019, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Joanne Harris, Novel, Top Books

Runelight by @Joannechocolat

Five past midnight, three years after the End of the World, and, as usual, there was nothing to be seen or heard in the catacombs – except, of course , for the rats and (if you believed in them) the ghosts of the dead.


Runelight is set in a world coming back to life, but it is also a world in conflict. For Maddy, born with the mark of magic on her hand, the return of the old gods and the overthrow of the brutal Order who suppressed them is a time of excitement. But for Maggie, raised as part of the Order, it is a time of chaos and desolation, as her family and values are wiped out.


Like the two girls, the new world remains divided – the old regime has gone but with nothing to take its place, anarchy is beginning to spread…


Joanne Harris draws us back into the richly imagined world first introduced in Runemarks -a world not unlike our own, had it been shaped by the Vikings instead of the Romans. But if its inhabitants, including Maddy and Maggie, can’t solve their differences soon, they will destroy their world altogether.

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[Five past midnight in World’s End, three years after the End of the World, and, as usual, there was nothing to be seen or heard in the catacombs of the Universal City – except, of course, for the rats and (if you believed in them) the ghosts of the dead]

***

(Black Swan, 8 November 2012, first published 2011, 572 pages, paperback, bought from @AmazonUK)

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Harris is one of my favourite writers. I devour her work. I loved Runemarks and the Loki books. I didn’t realise until recently that I hadn’t read this so had to drop everything and become quickly lost in the book. This dazzling novel features Maddy’s sister, Maggie who is dark opposite of her sister. Harris makes her a fully-fledged character in her own right rather than an evil clone of her sister. She makes some terrible decisions but she’s only 17 so her actions are understandable. I also loved the return of Maddy and Odin. Loki is as usual, a devious but charming delight. The events in this book follow on from Runemarks and it was easy to follow what was going on. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read this because I feel I missed a lot of connections and links with Runemarks.

Posted in 2019, Ali Smith, Contemporary Fiction, historical fiction, library book, literary fiction, Novel

How to Be Both by Ali Smith

How to be both is the dazzling new novel by Ali Smith.


Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith’s novels are like nothing else.


How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance. 

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[Ho this is a mighty twisting thing fast as a / fish being pulled by its mouth on a hook / if a fish could be fished through a / 6 foot wall made of bricks or an / arrow if an arrow could fly in a leisurely]

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(Hamish Hamilton, 28 August 2014, 372 pages, hardback, borrowed from @GlasgowLib)

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I’ve become a reluctant fan of Ali Smith in recent years. I really disliked her book The Accidental which put me off her work. However, I’ve enjoyed her Seasonal Quartet, Boy Meets Girl and Hotel World that I’m studying for an Open University course. So I decided to read more of her fiction. I really enjoyed How To Be Both which uses a similar structure to Hotel World. I found the historical sections the most enjoyable. This section is based on the real life of a relatively unknown painter, Francesco del Cossa. This is the inventive and intriguing section of the novel. Smith almost invents her own language. The contemporary story features a girl known as George. This is safer and slightly less satisfying. The book is available in two versions, one where Francesco comes first and one where George does. My copy had Francesco’s story first. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it more?