Friday, 30 December 2016

The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici

Book Review

The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici

"Perhaps this story is like one of those Russian dolls, each of them hiding a different one inside."

The Book of Mirrors will be released on 26th January 2017. It is written by E.O. Chirovici and published by Random House UK, Cornerstone.

Here's another highly anticipated book release for January 2017; The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici. The book is written by Romanian author Chirovici who has published several novels in his home country but is now trying his luck in the English speaking market. It would appear his luck has held as The Book of Mirrors has been sold to over 30 territories around the world and is already getting a lot of hype. However, while it's a fair thriller and an interesting look at memory, I don't think The Book of Mirrors quite lives up to the hype it's creating.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Book Review

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

"...foolish girl to believe in fairy tales"

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden will be published by Ebury Publishing on 12th January, 2017.

The Bear and the Nightingale is perhaps the perfect winter read; freezing forests, folklore, fairy tales and a family dynamic to get into (I didn't intend the alliteration there but it worked quite well!).
Based on Russian folklore, this book is one of the 'grown up fairy tales' which are having a moment, like The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy it, if it's done well, and The Bear and the Nightingale is mainly done well, though there are a few pace and plot elements that let it down.

Blurb from NetGalley

A young woman's family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift - a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning the father hides the gift away and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only on who can keep darkness at bay."

Friday, 23 December 2016

Classic Literature: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

"Marley was dead, to begin with...This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate."

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

My mum used to read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol every December and it's a tradition that my sister and I try to carry on. Although quite often I forget and then blitz through it on Christmas Eve.

There's not much I can say about this Christmas classic that hasn't already been said, and it's hard to write an unbiased review as the book is such a part of our culture. A Christmas Carol has been recreated on screen so many times, and the term Scrooge and Bah Humbug have become a part of our language. Actually, I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol before I ever read the book, so even now when I read it I still envision Scrooge as Michael Caine and Bob Cratchit as Kermit the Frog (by the way, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Scrooged are hands down the best Christmas films ever, don't even talk to me about Elf!)

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

5 Classic Children's Christmas Books

5 Classic Children's Christmas Books

I've rounded together some classic children's Christmas books that are festive, funny and sweet without being vomit-inducing.
When I say 'classic', I really mean; books that I read when I was younger. So classic in the sense that they were popular in the early '90s.
It's probably a little late to post a Christmas shopping list, but if you've still got some children to buy for, or some nostalgic adults, then any of these books are ideal.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Review

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

"Child and parent, no other relationship more complicated exists."

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is due to be released on 12th January 2017 and is published by Penguin UK.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Spy by Paulo Coelho

Book Review

The Spy by Paulo Coelho

The Spy is the latest book by Paulo Coelho and was published by Cornerstone on 22nd November 2016.

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless.
Soon she was feted as the most elegant woman in the city.
A dancer who shocked and delighted audiences; a confidant and courtesan who bewitched the era's richest and most powerful men.
But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari's lifestyle brought her under suspicion. Until, in 1917 she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees and accused of espionage.
Told through Mata's final letter, The Spy tells the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to break the conventions of her time, and paid the price.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Bookshop Spot - Southwold Books

Southwold Books

I started this post back in May and for some reason I never finished it, and I just found the draft of it on Blogger. So, seven months later, in freezing December, here's a summer Bookshop Spot featuring Southwold Books, hopefully it will give you warm, beachy feelings (although if I remember correctly it was still fairly bloody cold on the beach).

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #1)

Book Review

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

I've mentioned Johannes Cabal The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard in my September Favourites and Halloween Books post, and keep saying I'll do a review, now I've finally got round to it!

Friday, 2 December 2016

November 2016: Link Love

This is my second Link Love post. I'm really enjoying putting this monthly feature together, partly selfishly for me as it's a chance to gather all the things I've been loving on the web, but I also hope it'll interest other people and shine a light on other bloggers/writers/brands/people that I enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

November 2016: Favourite Reads

November 2016: Favourite Reads

As usual, there's a lot of crime fiction in this month's favourite books post. I've also been reading quite a few new releases too. They weren't all a hit though and, as usual, I've picked my favourite reads of the month to share with you.

Most of the books on this list were from the library and have now been returned, so I haven't been able to photograph them all together. Considering my photography skills this is probably a good thing.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

As I admitted in my review of Swing Time that I hadn't read any Zadie Smith before. I thought I'd better read her first and most famous book before I read her latest one. White Teeth is one of those books that, as a writer, just leaves me in awe. Not only was it original, well written and intelligent, the sheer time and planning that must have gone into coming up with all the characters and their timelines is amazing. And she was so young when she wrote it!
What also struck me about White Teeth was how funny it was. It's a long book, and deals with difficult subjects like race and family, but Smith's humour ensures its enjoyable.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

So onto the next Zadie Smith; I've already reviewed her latest book, Swing Time, but I had to include it in this month's favourites too. It focuses on the childhood friendship of the unnamed narrator and Tracey, two brown girls who both love dance. Even though their friendship ends abruptly in their twenties, neither can escape it or its repercussions in their later life.
I definitely prefer White Teeth but Swing Time is still an excellent book that explores friendship, race and culture, while also exuding Smith's love of dance from nearly every page.

Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves (Vera Stanhope #2)

The Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves

Damn my Grandmother! She's always lending me crime fiction books, which turn out to be part of a huge series that I get hooked on; I then add a whole lot of books to my reading list and lose even more shelf space. This month she leant me Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves, which is the second Vera Stanhope book.
I loved Telling Tales and have managed to pick up two more Vera books from the library; The Glass Room and Harbour Street (5 and 6 in the series, I haven't been reading them in order, just whatever I can find first).
I think the character of Vera is fantastic and original. She's such a mix of things; independent, lonely, drama queen, intelligent and always defined by her weight.
Cleeves' writing is incredibly atmospheric and she can make you feel the barren beauty of windswept Northumberland or the claustrophobia of a tiny country town.
This series has been made into a TV series Vera, as has Cleeves' other series, Shetland. Neither of which I've seen but I definitely want to once I've read some more of her books.

Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

Along Came a Spider by James Patterson (Alex Cross #1)

I finally read the first book in the hugely popular Alex Cross series by James Patterson. In Along Came a Spider Detective Alex Cross must tackle the kidnapping of two school children, the brutal murder of a poor family in the Washington projects and a serial killer who's desperate for fame.
Along Came a Spider is every bit as fast paced and addictive as everyone says. But, while I did enjoy it and read it in one sitting, I also guessed the main plot twist, which ruined it a bit.
I like the character of Alex Cross and found him complex, yet at times he was also a bit too good to be true.
However, I did enjoy the book and would like to read more of the series. It's ideal holiday reading.

Has anyone read these books? What did you think? I'd also love to know what you've all been reading this month.

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Friday, 25 November 2016

Classic Literature: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Book Review

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

"Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you."

I've been reviewing a lot of new releases recently and I thought it was about time to show some appreciation for the classics.
First off is one of my favourite books, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This is my rather battered but loved Penguin Classics edition.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson

Book Review

After the first few chapters of The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson (Headline) I considered giving up as I was not particularly impressed. The stock characters were acting out a story that's by no means new. And the romance, which can be seen coming a mile off, was almost ridiculously clichéd.

There were a few touches of depth; the lead character Ellie is a suffragette and Benson writes about the restraints and patriarchy that she encounters with passion and warmth. The history of Central American ancient cultures was also interesting and an area I don't know much about, but this was all overwhelmed by the rather unoriginal story-line.

But I carried on reading, and I'm not sure exactly what it was that hooked me in but something did and I finished The Smoke Hunter in a day and wanted to read more. I'd like to say that it was the fascinating history that got me hooked, but I think it's more likely it was the dreadfully predictable but still somehow page turning romance.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Book Review

Review of Swing Time by Zadie Smith

I've got a confession to make; I hadn't read any Zadie Smith novels until a few weeks ago, when I ploughed through White Teeth as I knew I had Swing Time to review and wanted to read her most famous novel first.

I don't know why I've never read any Smith, maybe because when White Teeth came out in 2000 I was 13. It's always been on my to-read list but for some reason I've never got round to it. I'll do a review of White Teeth later (it blew me away) and will focus on Swing Time here, but I will say that by reading White Teeth first I got a true feel for Smith's writing and themes. Maybe I should have read Swing Time blind but I'm glad I read White Teeth first.

Anyway, everyone has been awaiting Zadie Smith's latest novel and the chances of her writing a bad one were very low. And Swing Time is not bad, it's exceptionally good, tackling such themes as friendship, race, culture, finding your 'tribe', religion, celebrity and more, all with Smith's typical dose of reality and humour.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Cover Me in Darkness by Eileen Rendahl

Book Review

Review of Cover Me in Darkness by Eileen Rendahl

By just flicking back through a few of my older posts you'll see that I love a good thriller. Crime fiction is my thing, but it's often hard to find something original in a genre that's so saturated. I had high hopes for Cover Me in Darkness by Eileen Rendahl (Midnight Ink); I liked the cult angle and though 'murder made to look like suicide' has been done rather too many times, the story seemed to have legs.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

October 2016: Link Love

The Reading Nook - October 2016: Link Love

This is a new monthly post featuring, you guessed it, links that I love. I know it's a little late for October's post, now being well into November, but I've been spectacularly unorganised as usual.

Each month I'll bring a round up of what I've been enjoying on the web, including books and writing related links as well as a few random favourites.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Evenings by Gerard Reve (translated by Sam Garrett)

Book Review

The Evenings by Gerard Reve (translated by Sam Garrett)

In The Netherlands The Evenings, published in 1947, is considered a classic and is taught in schools, but many English readers have never heard of it or author Gerard Reve, who was the first openly gay writer in The Netherlands.
Finally, almost 70 years after its original publication, The Evenings has been translated into English and was published by Pushkin Press on November 3rd 2016.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

October: Favourite Reads

October 2016: Favourite Reads

This month's favourite reads post is a little sparse; October was a month of rather disappointing books punctuated, luckily, with some great ones. I'm wondering whether to do a post on the books that I've struggled with, would anybody actually be interested in that?
I'll have a think.

But back to the good books. These four really stood out in an otherwise dreary reading month. I've just realised they're all crime fiction and all part of a series, clearly I have a type.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Highlanders' Revenge: Win or Review

Win or review Highlanders' Revenge by Paul Tors

Happy Halloween! This post is not Halloween related at all but is in fact me rambling on about my own book for a bit, I'll try and keep it short and sweet.

(If you are in the mood for a scary read then check out my 6 Horror Books to Read for Halloween.)

I just wanted to write a quick post to let you know a few new things that are happening with my novel Highlanders' Revenge. You can read more about the book here, but in brief; I co-wrote a World War Two fictional novel with my uncle under the pseudonym Paul Tors. It was published by Troubador and is available to buy as paperback or ebook on Amazon or through the publisher.
We've got some great feedback so far and are feeling really thankful to everyone who's bought and read it.
We've got a couple of exciting things happening too.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (Peter Grant / Rivers of London #6)

Book Review

Review of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

I was so lucky to receive an advance copy of the latest Peter Grant novel, The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.

Total jammy git, in fact.

I've only recently got into the Peter Grant series, having read The Rivers of London earlier this year. I loved it so much I quickly read the rest of the series and have been waiting impatiently on this one.

The Hanging Tree sees Peter Grant, copper and trainee wizard, back in London and still on the trail of the Faceless Man.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

6 Horror Books to Read for Halloween

6 Horror Books to Read for Halloween

This is such a typical book blogger post for this time of year, but it's one that I really wanted to do as I love to read a good scary book around Halloween. Not that it has to be October 31st in order to read spooky stories, but there's something about October that makes me want to hide under the covers and scare myself.

So, here are 6 of my favourite scary books to read for Halloween.

Monday, 17 October 2016

All That Man Is by David Szalay

Book Review

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016

Yes! I've managed to get this review in before the Man Booker Prize winner is announced on the 25th. It was touch and go for a while because it took me forever to finish All That Man Is by David Szalay (Vintage Publishing) and I wasn't sure I was going to do it in time.
There's no question that this isn't a well written book, but God it bored me silly.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror compiled by Ellen Datlow

Book Review

Nightmares: A Decade of Modern Horror compiled by Ellen Datlow

Nice spooky ghost stories for Halloween, that's what I thought about Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror (Tachyon Publications) when I first saw it. But that's not exactly what I got.

Nightmares is an anthology of short horror stories, compiled by "editor extraordinaire" Ellen Datlow. This is the followup to Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror and covers the decade 2005 to 2015. It includes 24 stories from some of the most iconic horror authors, including Garth Nix, Gene Wolfe, Richard Kadrey and many more.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard

Book Review

Book review of Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard

I mentioned Seldom Seen (Windmill Books) by Sarah Ridgard in my September Favourites and promised I'd do a proper review.

I didn't know anything about the book before I read it, except that the author is from Suffolk like myself and the book is also set in the county.

It is set near to the little town of Framlingham, famous for its 12th century castle. I was actually in Framlingham this weekend for their annual Sausage Festival (yes, I snigger every time I say that too) and I had big plans to photograph the book with Framlingham Castle in the background. But, in typical British way, it hammered down and the photo session didn't happen. We also spent most of the time in the pub instead of sampling sausages (can't think of a decent wet sausage joke, someone else make one up).

Anyway, the book has a lovely cover by illustrator Tom Duxbury, so looks pretty good with or without a castle in the background. I have this edition but the first editions are in yellow.

Book review of Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard

I also discovered that Seldom Seen was long-listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2013.

And then I read the blurb, and it was swiftly put to the top of my tbr list.

Read it for yourself.

Monday, 3 October 2016

September Favourites

September Favourites - Reading, Writing, Booking

I thought I'd start doing a monthly favourites; a collection of the best books I've read each month.

I read even more books than usual in September as I was spectacularly jet lagged at the beginning of the month after getting back from Canada, then I had a bastard of a cold all last week, so there has been even more lying around and reading done than usual.

So, here a few of the favourite books that I've read this month.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Book Review

Review of Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

"I was a shoplifter, a pervert, you might say, and a liar of course, but nobody knew that."

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Vintage) is the 2016 Man Booker Prize short list option that's got everyone talking. Some are praising the novel and hoping it wins the award, while others say it doesn't deserve to be on the list at all.

It's a controversial choice and definitely a controversial book, dividing it's readers. So this, of course, made me want to read it.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Book Shop Spot: Mermaid Tales Bookshop, Tofino, Canada

...and a mini book haul

Mermaid Tales Bookshop - Tofino, Vancouver Island

I'm going to start doing semi-regular posts on Book Shop Spots; a brief review of bookshops I've visited. The majority of these will probably be located around Suffolk in the UK as that's where I'm based, but I'll start off with a book shop on the other side of the world; Mermaid Tales Bookshop in Tofino in British Columbia, Canada.