Posted in 2021, Chris Beckett, Contemporary Fiction, library book, Novel, Science Fiction, Top Books

The Holy Machine by @chriszbeckett

George Simling has grown up in the city-state of Illyria, an enclave of logic and reason founded as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism that swept away the nations of the twenty-first century. Yet to George, Illyria’s militant rationalism is as stifling as the faith-based superstition that dominates the world outside its walls.

For George has fallen in love with Lucy. A prostitute. A robot. She might be a machine, but the semblance of life is perfect. To the city authorities, robot sentience is a malfunction, curable by erasing and resetting silicon minds. But George knows that Lucy is something more.

His only alternative is to flee Illyria, taking Lucy deep into the religious Outlands where she must pass as human because robots are seen as mockeries of God, burned at the stake, dismembered, crucified. Their odyssey leads them through betrayal, war and madness, ending only at the monastery of the Holy Machine…

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Perhaps I should start this story with my escape across the border in the company of a beautiful woman?

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(@CorvusBooks, 1 July 2010, ebook, 289 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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AMAZON

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I came across the author’s work recently because I liked the covers of his books and have become quite a fan. Like other books I’ve read by the author, The Holy Machine is not what you expect from science fiction. It’s a brilliantly written, dazzling and original book. I loved everything about it. I loved the way the book explores the development of AI. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, literary fiction, Novel, Suchen Christine Lim, Top Books

The River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim

Ping, an American citizen, returns to Singapore after many years and sees a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the crowded riverside and in their place rise the gleaming towers of the financial district.

Her childhood growing up among the river people had been very different, and leaving her first love Weng, a musician, for America, had been devastating.

Now that she is back in Singapore, can she face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for many years?

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The man had come to play the bamboo flute.

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(@AuroraMetro, 1 April 2014, ebook, 290 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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I stumbled across this book by chance when it was offered as a freebie on Amazon a while ago. I loved the cover and the blurb piqued my interest. I really enjoyed fiction by Japanese, Singapore authors and the like so I was looking forward to The River’s Song. I was pulled into Ping’s story from the first couple of paragraphs and didn’t want to stop reading. I loved the way the story develops starting with Ping’s memories of her childhood and coming to the present when she finds herself back where she grew up in a city much changed. I really loved the characters and the setting and how effortlessly it all comes to life. I couldn’t recommend this enough.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, kevin ansbro, Novel, Top Books

The Fish That Climbed a Tree by @kevinansbro

Following his savage murder in a London vicarage, Reverend Ulysses Drummond embarks on an epic odyssey in the afterlife, wrestling with his conscience and misguidedly spurning the obvious advantages of a free ticket to Paradise.

His ten-year-old son, Henry, is left to muddle through life, encountering school bullies, big-hearted benefactors and cold-blooded killers on his passage to adulthood. Will Henry find love, success and happiness in his life – or will he suffer the cruel and agonising death that was foretold?

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Due to his being dead for the past decade, Ulysses Drummond could only look on in horror as his son was doused in petrol.

PROLOGUE

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(2QT Limited, 7 December 2018, ebook, 242 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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This is a new author for me. I stumbled across his work by chance when I saw this title promoted by Amazon. I loved the title and decided I had to read the book. I barely even glanced at the blurb. I really loved The Fish That Climbed a Tree. I’m a book freak and read a lot and can honestly say I haven’t read anything quite like this before, unique, engaging from the first line and entertaining. The book is the perfect blend of comedy and darkness. It touches on some dark subject matter but there are some comic gold moments as well. I can’t recommend this enough.

Posted in 2021, Clive Barker, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Prime Reading, Top Books

Everville by @RealCliveBarker

On the borderland between this world and the world of Quiddity, the sea of our dreams, sits Everville. For years it has lived in ignorance of the gleaming shore on which it lies. But its ignorance is not bliss.

On a mountain peak, high above the city of Everville, a door stands open onto the shores of the dream-sea Quiddity. And there’s not a soul below who’ll not be changed by that fact… Phoboe Cobb, once a doctor’s receptionist, is about to forget her old life and go looking for her lost lover Joe Flicker in the strange, sensual wonderland on the other side of that door. Tesla Bombeck, who knows what horrors lurk on the far side of Quiddity, must solve the mysteries of the city’s past if she is to keep those horrors from crossing the threshold. Harry D’Amour, who has traced the ultimate evil across America, will find it conjuring atrocities in the sunlit streets of Everville.

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It was hope undid them.

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(@HarperCollinsUK, 24 June 2020, ebook, 707 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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Barker is one of my favourite writers and I still have a lot of his back catalogue to read. I loved the first book of the art, The Great and Secret Show which I read years ago. I hope he finally finishes the final book in the trilogy. If you’ve read any of Barker’s work you’ll know what to expect – dark, twisted, disturbing, and intense, a blend of fantasy and horror and other stuff that you don’t know what to name. I loved every word of Everville.

Posted in 2021, Alexis Henderson, First Read, historical fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Top Books

The Year of the Witching by @alexhwrites

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches, and so cleansed the land.

And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.

It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother . . .

Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.

Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her . . .

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SHE WAS BORN breech, in the deep of night.

THE BEAST

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(@TransworldBooks, 23 July 2020, ebook, 355 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I seem to have accumulated quite a lot of books about witchcraft. The Year of Witching is the last of them. For the moment. I loved it and wish I’d read it ages ago. The book is part horror part historical fiction. There are some very dark moments as Immanuelle digs deeper into the past of her deceased parents and uncovers the dark heart of Bethel and the atrocities committed in the name of the Father. There’s nothing like a little religious fanaticism, child abuse and torture to keep me flicking through the pages. This book is well written and engrossing. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Novel, Rosamund Lupton, thriller, Top Books

Three Hours by @Rosamundlupton

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

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A moment of stillness; as it time itself is waiting and can no longer be measured.

1

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(@PenguinUKBooks, 6 January 2020, ebook, 306 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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For some reason, I’ve read a lot of books about high school shootings. I’ve even read a memoir by the mother of one of the Columbine shooters which devastated me. I have no idea what I find so fascinating about such books. I’ve loved other books by the author. I thought I knew what to expect from Three Hours. Boy, was I wrong. In some ways, aspects of the book are similar to other similar books. Three Hours is different in that very little time is spent inside the head of the gunmen trying to humanise them. Instead, the focus is on the children and teachers trapped in different areas of the school and their families. I found this book devastating at times but I loved every word.

Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Doug Johnstone, Novel, thriller, Top Books

#TheGreatSilence by @doug_johnstone

The discovery of a human foot in an Edinburgh park, the inexplicable circumstances of a dying woman, and the missing daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-husband present the Skelf women with their most challenging – and deadly – cases yet…

Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private-investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself … with potentially deadly results.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: The mysterious circumstances of a dying woman lead them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelf’s teenaged lodger has yet another devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.

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She would never get used to picking up Einstein’s shit.

DOROTHY

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(@OrendaBooks, 19 June 2021, 300 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 16 August 2021)

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I really enjoyed the last Skelf book, The Big Chill and was looking forward to reading this. The Great Silence is a corker. I really need to read the first book and can’t wait for the next. I love the fact the book is set in Edinburgh, I always finds books set my country, Scotland a bit special like a proud mother. Like the last book, The Great Silence is full of twists and turns as the Skelf’s find themselves embroiled in a kidnapping, a strange mystery involving two dismembered but badly embalmed legs and strange messages from aliens. I loved the way the author manages to make this crazy nonsense seem perfectly logical and sensible. I couldn’t read The Great Silence fast enough. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, John Connolly, Novel, thriller, Top Books

The Nameless Ones by @jconnollybooks

In Amsterdam, four people are butchered in a canal house, their remains arranged around the crucified form of their patriarch, De Jaager: fixer, go-between, and confidante of the assassin named Louis. The men responsible for the murders are Serbian war criminals. They believe they can escape retribution by retreating to their homeland.

They are wrong.

There is only one problem.

The sixth.

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The two figures were by now a familiar sight, if only to a select few, for even ones such as these, who guarded their privacy so assiduously, must inevitably become known to some of their neighbours.

CHAPTER 1

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(@HodderBooks, 8 July 2021, ebook, 393 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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Connolly is one of my favourite authors. I’ve loved the Charlie Parker books since the first in the series, Every Dead Thing which I read soon after it was published. The new book in the series is a yearly highlight. I couldn’t wait to read The Nameless Ones. In a change of pace, Parker is only mentioned in passing in this book, the focus of which are his sidekicks, Angel and Louis on a mission of revenge which leads them to some darker places even by their standards. Angel and Louis are among my favourite fictional characters so I was delighted to read a book where they are the central driving force of the story. I loved this book; fast-paced, engrossing, dark and brutal at times. Angel and Louis shine.

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, literary fiction, LRB Book Subscription, Novel, ruth ozeki, Top Books

My Year Of Meats by @ozekiland

In a single eye-opening year, two women, worlds apart, experience parallel awakenings. In New York, Jane Takagi-Little has landed a job producing Japanese docu-soap My American Wife! But as she researches the consumption of meat in the American home, she begins to realize that her ruthless search for a story is deeply compromising her morals. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, housewife Akiko Ueno diligently prepares the recipes from Jane’s programme. Struggling to please her husband, she increasingly doubts her commitment to the life she has fallen into. As Jane and Akiko both battle to assert their individuality on opposite sides of the globe, they are drawn together in a startling story of strength, courage, love.

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The American Wife sits on the floor in front of a fireplace.

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(@canongatebooks, 1 August 2013, paperback, 351 pages, bought from @LRBbookshop via a #SubscriptionBox)

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I’ve read and enjoyed other books by the author so was looking forward to this. I loved the book and enjoyed it a bit more than I was expecting. I loved the way the story is told from both Jane and Akiko’s point of view as you learn their different stories and how the show impacts both their lives in positive and negative ways. The book has a simple premise and the book is much more intense and emotional. I was expecting a light read and got the opposite as the book touches on some pretty dark areas. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, samantha downing, thriller, Top Books

#ForYourOwnGood by @smariedowning

Double Sunday Times bestseller Samantha Downing, author of My Lovely Wife and He Started It, is back with a deliciously twisted new novel…

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant. Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud – though if they stopped to think, they would realise no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent. Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day. You’re sure you can prove it.

You just didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind…

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Entitlement has a particular stench.

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(@MichaelJBooks, 19 August 2021, ebook, 400 pages, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’ve enjoyed other books by the author so was looking forward to For Your Own Good. This is different from her other books, in a good way. I had a fantastic time reading it. This is the kind of intense, fast paced twisty thriller I love. I thought I knew what was going on and who the killer actually was but then something seemingly random would happen and my theory was blown out of the water. I loved the way there were so many suspects in the tragedies even though it’s clear fairly early on who the guilty party is, this knowledge didn’t retract from my enjoyment, in fact watching the killer discombobulate while trying to ‘fix’ the mess they made and only making it worse was a pleasure. I loved this book.