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
“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


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’.

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.

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
"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
• 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)
“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.