Wednesday, 16 May 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
Grab your current read and open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page being careful not to include any spoilers!  Share the title and author, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Did the officers sense anything amiss, anything strange about the scene? No, they were dull and provincial—they just wanted to get things over with. One of them silently drove Klara and me to the station.”
The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa
Genre: Literary, Fiction, Gothic, Suspense, Psychological
Publisher: Underland Press (April 2018)
Pages: 244
Description:
“Ominous, fantastic, and wonderfully malevolent…. I felt the spirits of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Albert Camus’ Meursault, whispering to join the fun.”— Alice Sebold, best-selling and award-winning author of The Lovely Bones

A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.

Or so he thinks.

My Thoughts:
A very creepy and foreboding atmospheric tale which I’m totally absorbed in, when I get the chance to read what with my job change right now rendering me mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

My review will be kicking off the TLC Book Tour on 23rd May, 2018.
See here for the tour schedule.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND - May 2018

My book blog and reviewing has been pretty erratic of late due to rather a lot happening in my personal life. For quite some time I had been very unhappy at work. I spent a lot of time soul searching and looking at what the problem areas were in my life in order for me to take control and do something about it. Surprisingly quickly I managed to change my working environment and am now looking forward to an exciting new venture. Oh, and get back to enjoying what I love, reading and sharing my thoughts on the fabulous and not so fabulous books I’ve been reading.

So, with no further ado, here are my updates for this edition of ‘What’s on your Nightstand’.

Read:
SNAP, Belinda Bauer (crime/thriller with spades of humour…loved it!) 4.5 stars. This was an entertaining and fun infused read from a crime author I’ve followed since her debut novel ‘Blacklands’ back in 2010. SNAP is a fast paced, creepy tale set in Cornwall, England about a young boy trying to do his best to look after his siblings since his mother was killed. There are doses of implausibly in the plot, but as I already said, it’s such a great read.  Review forthcoming
Paper Ghosts, Julia Heaberlin (crime, thriller…loved it!) 5 starts
Not quite as dark as ‘The Black Eyed Susans’, which I loved, but still tackles a difficult subject matter with a wry sense of humour and two highly unreliable main characters. ‘Paper Ghosts’ demonstrates adaptability and versatility in Heaberlin’s genre writing skills and I enjoyed every moment and looking forward to what she comes out with next.  Review forthcoming
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebald (Audio) 4 stars
Why I took so long to read/listen to this I do not know, well I do…too many books. So glad I finally got around to reading this compelling magical ghost story written in the voice of a murdered young girl.
The Invisible Guardian, Delores Redondo (thriller) 3.5 stars
A good entertaining story set in Spain’s Basque region, incorporating the folk lore and superstitions of the community as well as fraught family dynamics  in this well written and translated murder mystery thriller. Part of a trilogy that I’ll probably read at some point in time as it left some unanswered questions I want answering.
The History of Bees, Maja Lunde (dystopian fiction) 3 stars
A beautifully (but rather dull in my opinion) written tale about three character’s whose lives revolve or have been affected by bees. Told over three different timeframes in three indistinct narratives which unfortunately is why I didn’t feel as wowed by it as others have been. Review forthcoming.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland (literary fiction) 4.5 stars
With gorgeous prose this is a mesmerising heart breaking tale about loss, guilt, love, sacrifice and redemption. Simply stunning story. Review forthcoming.
I Stop Somewhere, T C Carter (YA, ) 5 stars
Raw, brutal, emotive but also infused with a caltenderness at the denouement of the story. This book is easily one of the best I’ve read this year in the YA/teen genre. Review forthcoming.
Dear Martin, Nic Stone (YA, current US political climate) 4 stars
Another awesome young adult novel with fabulous writing and intense character development. Timely and extremely thought provoking. One to read after Angie Thomas’ THUG (The Hate U Give). Review forthcoming.

DNF:
Drift, Stumble, Fall, M Jonathan Lee
Unfortunately it wasn’t one I could get into and I didn’t manage to finish it.
Need to mull over this one before making further comment.

Reading Now:
VOX, Christina Dalcher
Oh I’m loving this fabulous cautionary dystopian tale about men and their disturbing control of power over women in every area of their lives. One to definitely read if you enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaids Tale’. Review to follow.

Next in Line:
The Garden of Blue Roses, Michael Barsa
Nine Birds Singing, Edythe Anstey Hanen

Update 2018: The Martian by Andy Weir

UPDATE: May 2018

Oh boy did I get this one wrong by saying I would recommend it for hard core sci-fi readers.
At the time of it’s publication back in 2014, I was surprised at how well it was selling...(as a bookseller I should really have known better and believe me I did learn from this oversight).

Then, then... after the successful film adaptation, sales of the book were phenomenal and I started to realise how badly wrong I’d gotten this one.  Due to the rave reviews, and partly because ‘ I LOVE MATT DAMON’ (purely on his acting skills I’ll have you know),  I went along with my husband to watch ‘The Martian’ and was pleasantly surprised...I loved it, so did he.  This, I think was due to just the right amount of focus being placed on the mathematical calculations the incredibly intelligent, resourceful Mat..sorry Mark makes desperately to remain alive for as long as possible. The humour and unrelenting optimism of our hero who finds himself in such a perilous predicament made for a far greater tense, thrilling and entertaining experience.

In conclusion, The Martian by Andy Weir is one I would now, without reservation, recommend to anyone wanting an exciting, intelligent and informative read, but to maybe skip the intensive ‘science bits’ if , like me, you're not a mathematician.

Artemis, Weir’s second novel is on my to be read list.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: (digital) Publisher via NetGalley
Pub Date:  (H/B) Feb 11 2014
Synopsis:
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

My Thoughts: (original posting Nov 2013)
What do I say about this one apart from I could not finish it !
Loved the idea of Robinson Crusoe on Mars but just couldn't get into it.

Obviously in the minority with my opinion because of many other reviewers giving a rating of 4 or 5 stars.

Too techie/nerdie, geeky for me. Full on successive problems and solutions with math calculations about how the guy could survive 430 something days before possible rescue.  I felt that I should have a degree in chemistry or physics to get it.  In the end I just didn't care enough to find out if he survived or not.

Would recommend to hard core sci fi fans.

I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this title.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: VOX by Christina Dalcher


It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! 
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Lorenzo, I whisper inside my head, and kick the three delicious syllables away before they hurt too much. My self is becoming more and more separate.”
VOX by Christina Dalcher
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkeley (21 August 2018)
Description:
“VOX is intelligent, suspenseful, provocative, and intensely disturbing - everything a great novel should be.” Lee Child

Silence can be deafening.
Jean McClellan spends her days in almost complete silence, limited to a daily quota of just one hundred words.  Now that the new government is in power, no woman is able to speak over this limit without punishment by electric shock.

Perfect for fans of Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid's Tale’, don't miss the thrilling debut that everyone will be talking about this summer!

My Thoughts:
This is another extremely promising dystopian read and very akin to The Handmaid’s Tale atmospherically and frighteningly all too plausible in our current political climate.

Actually, I’d forgotten I had this on my list to read but fortunately Jin from Berkley jogged my memory and I started it today.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: SNAP by Belinda Bauer

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! 
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Reynolds loved being a police officer. He’d always had a finely honed sense of right and wrong, and felt it his duty not to waste it. It wasn’t a complicated thing: he was right and everybody else was wrong.

... (Marvel) addressed Reynolds. ‘I’m a homicide detective,’ he said. ‘When I’m rushed to the scene of a crime, I expect a murder victim, not a broken TV and a shit on the rug..”
SNAP by Belinda Bauer
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Random House (17 May 2018) / Grove Atlantic (13 July 2018)
Pages: 352
Description:
'The best crime novel I've read in a very long time.' - VAL MCDERMID
'Snap is the best kind of crime novel - it gives you chills, it makes you think, and it touches your heart. I loved it!' SARAH PINBOROUGH, No.1 bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she said. I won't be long.

But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack, now fourteen, is still in charge - of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and - quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

'Original, pacy and thoroughly entertaining . . . a cracking read.' CLARE MACKINTOSH, bestselling author of I Let You Go

'No one writes crime novels like Belinda Bauer, with a rare blend of darkness, humour and heart. She's a crime writing genius.' C. L. Taylor, bestselling author of The Missing

My Thoughts:
At 18% and so far this is a tense and very humorous mystery thriller. The opening scene totally demands your attention and curiosity about what happened and what will happen next.

That’s all for now…

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! 
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Whether or not anyone likes me—whether or not I like me—I don’t want to blame myself anymore. I only wanted to belong. I wanted so badly to be taken in—by someone, someplace. Anyone. Anyplace. I wanted it enough to screw up and lose myself, but I am still not to blame...I didn’t deserve this.”

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
Genre: Teen/YA
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd (19th April, 2018)
Pages: 320

Trigger Warning: Rape and violent content contained and as a result of the authenticity and raw style of writing may be one to be cautious about reading particularly for anyone with very recent experience of rape.
Description:
“When the world breaks you into pieces, sometimes you find what’s left scattered among other people’s broken parts.”

Ellie Frias has never wanted to be popular, she just wants to blend in, to be accepted. But then Caleb Breward, tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.

Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she’s not sure she likes him that much – his awkward smile, the possessive way he touches her, his harsh tone, how he ignores her one minute and can't get enough the next. And then, on one black night, Ellie discovers the monster her boyfriend really is.

The Lovely Bones meets Asking For It - this is the searing, heartbreaking story of a lost teenager, and the town she leaves behind.

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to say very much about it here. I’m almost done reading it and want to save it for my review which will be added very soon. In the meantime here are some notes I made at various stages of reading:

March 18, 2018
40.0% "I remember the rape and murder of a young girl in my town where a school has been built on the wasteland where her body was found and the poignancy of this line is heartbreaking. ‘He’ll bring his friends home and they’ll play soccer over where I am.’

“This is teen/YA that demands to be read by all ages."

March 18, 2018
43.0% "This is so incredibly powerful and so obviously written with personal experience of from either the author or someone close. I feel devastated and on the verge of howling with sheer disgust and devastation. I feel wrung emotionally and want to cry so much for Ellie and what she has gone through"

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! 
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“An army post in peacetime is a dull place. Things happen, but then they happen over and over again.

There is a fort in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed. The participants of this tragedy were: two officers, a soldier, two women, a Filipino, and a horse.”
Reflections in a Golden Eye Carson McCullers
Genre: Novella, Literary Fiction
Published by Penguin Modern Classics
Pages: 128
Description:
'A masterpiece . . . as mature and finished as Henry James's The Turn of the Screw'.

Time Set on a Southern army base in the 1930s, Reflections in a Golden Eye tells the story of Captain Penderton, a bisexual whose life is upset by the arrival of Major Langdon, a charming womanizer who has an affair with Penderton's tempestuous and flirtatious wife, Leonora.

Upon the novel's publication in 1941, reviewers were unsure of what to make of its relatively scandalous subject matter. But a critic for Time magazine wrote, "In almost any hands, such material would yield a rank fruitcake of mere arty melodrama. But Carson McCullers tells her tale with simplicity, insight, and a rare gift of phrase."
Written during a time when McCullers's own marriage to Reeves was on the brink of collapse

My Thoughts:
After hearing McCullers novella being discussed amongst the guest writers Nina Stibbe (Love, Nina; Paradise Lodge) and Kit de Waal (My Name is Leon; The Trick to Time) on this afternoon’s BBC Radio 4 program, (‘A Good Read’), I had an overwhelming urge to hunt amongst my hoard of books to find it, and having just started reading, I’m rather eager to get on with it.

So that’s it for this week. Will say more about soon.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! 
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Some days Alice’s mother disappeared from her body altogether. There were no stories or walks to the sea. There was no talking with flowers. Her mother would stay in bed with the curtains drawn against the blanching light, vanished, as if her soul had gone somewhere else entirely.”

The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Published by Pan Macmillan (28th June 2018)
Pages: 400
Description
Flowers, fire and fairy tales are the elements that will forever shape nine-year-old Alice Hart's life, in The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart, the remarkable debut by Holly Ringland.
Alice Hart lives in isolation by the sea, where her mother’s enchanting flowers and their hidden messages shelter her from the dark moods of her father. When tragedy changes her life irrevocably, nine-year-old Alice goes to live with the grandmother she never knew existed, on a native flower farm that gives refuge to women who, like Alice, are lost or broken. In the Victorian tradition, every flower has a meaning and, as she settles into her new life, Alice uses this language of flowers to say the things that are too hard to speak.
As she grows older, though, family secrecy, a devastating betrayal and a man who’s not all he seems, combine to make Alice realise there are some stories that flowers alone cannot tell. If she is to have the freedom she craves, she must find the courage to possess the most powerful story she knows: her own.

My Thoughts at 30%
Enchanting, dreamy, mesmerising…I love this book. ‘The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart’ has introduced me to the magical language of flowers and is an absorbing heartfelt tale about grief, abandonment, loss and betrayal and about how with the love and nurturing of others any hurt can be healed, and that with time anything can be overcome.

For me this book does for flowers what Elizabeth J Church’s ‘The Atomic Weight of Love’ did for crows. Deep sigh !

Review to follow on completion.