Sealskin by Su Bristow published 15 Febuary 2017

 

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Donald is a fisherman on the West Coast of Scotland, in a village where fishing is at the heart of the community.  One night whilst out on the sea Donald witnesses a magical event; the Selkies coming ashore, and he does the unthinkable.  The repurcussions of his actions not only effect him but also the residents of the village.  Can something good come out of an act of violence and can Donald put things right again?

 

This book is the reworking of the classic Selkie legend.  It has all the magical and etherial quality of a folk tale mixed with the reality of life in a small, isolated fishing village.  There is no given time in which this story is set which adds to the magic of the tale;  this story could be past, present or future and it would deal with the same issues of prejudice, violence, rape and distrust of anything new.  These issues give a stark contrast to the otherworldly brought to the village by Maihri.

It is a beautifully written book with a cast of characters that cover all the traits of humanity that you would expect in a close knit community; the large family, the loner, the single elderly aunt, the priest, the damaged family, the gossiping matriarch.  My only complaint is that the chapters are very short which stopped the flow of the prose in places.  Apart from that I loved this book, it is a fairytale for adults and a story I was sad to finish.  It gives a real sense of hope, that the unfamiliar can become familiar, and places emphasis on the sense of community,  and the importance of forgiveness and family.

This is a truly beautiful book that will enchant and captivate you.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Recognition Award(February ’17)

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I would like to say a huge thank you to Jacqueline Leech at https://kittyprydeisshadowcat.wordpress.com and Lauren Watkins at https://laurensbookaddiction.wordpress.com for nominating me for this award.  Please check out their blogs.  I am so excited to have been nominated especially as you all know I am fairly new to the blogging scene.

 

I started this blog last May to give me a purpose in life.  I have had Spondylosis for over ten years which has left me unable to work and near enough housebound.  Books have been my saviour  during this time, I can escape from the pain for a while,  I can’t read everyday but  try to read was often as I can.  The blog was the next progression and I have loved sharing my book reviews with everyone.  I never started out to get a lot of followers or recognition, I just did it for me, to give me a bit of structure. I love peoples passion for books and that they share this with others.  Thank you to all who have followed me and become my Facebook friends.

It feels strange giving advice to new bloggers when I still feel I am still a beginner but the one thing I have learned is that it is Ok to say no.  At first I said yes to every blog tour and found that I was getting swamped.  It is the same with NetGalley, don’t request too many books at once.  Most of all enjoy it, and join Facebook groups for bloggers and readers as you will meet a lot of likeminded people and get a lot of help and support.

Here are the fifteen bloggers that I nominate for this award.

1.  Jacqueline Leech http://kittyprydeisshadowcat.wordpress.com

2. Lauren Watkins http://laurensbookaddicton.wordpress.com

3. Kelley Lacey www.lovebooksgroup.co.uk

4.  Janet Lambert http://beadyjansbooks.blogspot.co.uk

5. Mairead O Driscoll Hearne www.swirlandthead.com

6. Joanne Robertson http://mychestnutreadingtree.wordpress.com

7.  Tracy Fenton www.compulsivereaders.com

8.  Jill Stratton http://jilllovestoread.blogspot.co.uk

9.  Jessica Page Johnson www.jessicasreadingroom.com

10. Chelsea Humphrey www.thesuspenseisthrillingme.com

11.  Linda Hill www.lindasbookbag.com

12.  Emma Welton www.damppebbles.com

13.  Anne Carter http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox

14.  Karen Cocking www.myreadingcorner.co.uk

15. Sue Hampson http://booksfromdusktildawn.wordpress.com

 

Being nominated means I have to oblige to certain rules.

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated me

2.  Write a post to show your award

3.  Give a brief story of how you started your blog

4.  Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers

5.  Select 15 bloggers you want to give this award to

6.  Let your 15 bloggers know you have nominated them with a link to the post you have created.

The Book of Mirrors by E.O Chirovici published 26 January 2017

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Literary agent, Peter Katz receives a partial manuscript from Richard Flynn.  The plot revolves around the true life murder of a professor at Princeton University twenty seven years earlier.  Not sure if this is a fictional account and not being in receipt of the full manuscript Katz decides to take a closer look at the murder of Professor Joseph Weider and the main suspects.  In doing so he is drawn into a tale of jealousy, friendships and research into the human memory and how it functions after trauma.  Can we trust our own memories and those of others, or are they false memories to protect us from traumatic events?

The book is narrated in the first person and by three different narrators; Peter Katz, the literary agent, John Keller a journalist enlisted by Katz to look into those involved at the time, and Roy Freeman a retired cop who worked the original case in 1987.  All there provide us with different facets of the characters involved and in the timeline of events that led up to Professor Weider’s murder.  The first person narrative gives the impression of them giving evidence directly to us the reader, rather like a witness/lawyer in a trial.  This is not only about the events that led up to the murder but also about how complex  our memories can be.  In this we have several different people all with completely different memories of the same evening which leads us to question if we have false memories of a situation and can we trust the memories of others.

There has been much written about this book so I had high expectations.  Unfortunately it did not live up to all the hype but it is still a really good read.  I do think it is more of a who dunnit than a thriller, but an intelligent and engaging read all the same.  I do wonder how much of the original concept, suspense and details were lost in the translation of this book from Romanian to English.  I did find the characters intriguing and it was very interesting to see how the three different narrators interacted with them and what views the formed of their personality and their perceived part in the murder.

In conclusion, this is a well written literary thriller that plays games with your mind, a good read.

 

 

 

Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch published 26 January 2017

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Louisa has lost everything after her husband smashes into her car to stop her leaving.  Her children are gone and so is her husband, Louisa has to build a new life after the accident that has left her mentally and physically scarred.

Sophie was having an affair with Louisa’s husband Sam.  She wants revenge and to make Louisa pay for what she stole from her; the life she would have lived with Sam. She will go to any lengths to destroy Louisa and her new life.

This is a well written, compelling read.  The story is told by Louisa and Sophie with flashbacks to Louisa and Sam’s marriage.  As narrators both Louisa and Sophie are unreliable;  their characters are very emotional and they project this into their narration blurring the lines between fact and fiction. They both have their demons from their childhood that have a large influence on their lives now.  Louisa and Sam’s marriage is revealed bit by bit, as is their history  before they got together.  There is no doubt that the car crash at the beginning is more than just a terrifying event, it is a metaphor for the relationships between Louisa, Sam and Sophie who were all on a road to self destruction.

This is a very dark and suspenseful book, that will shock and thrill all the way through.   Don’t come to this book with preconceived ideas as it is one of those books that just when you think you know where it is going it turns itself on its head.  It is simply brilliant, a book that will chill you to the bone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison published 24 January 2017

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2013 Dhaka Bangladesh there is a fire at Millennium clothing factory.  People are jumping from the windows to escape, hundreds die and others are badly injured.  The media focus on one image, a young girl, dirty and broken on the ground with a pair of children pants covering her mouth to protect against smoke inhalation.  The label on those pants is Piccolo an American fashion brand made by the Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Cameron Alexander is a CEO at Presto and a lawyer.  He decides to look into the sourcing and supply change in the aftermath of the fire and media frenzy, but is not prepared for the opening of the Pandoras Box that is the exploitation of workers in the sweatshops where the garments are made.  But America lives in a culture of deniability where all that matters is customer supply and demand.

One year later former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Josh Griswold receives information from a whistleblower at Presto about the extent of corporate exploitation in the east, in particular the slavery, rape and human trafficking of workers.  Josh uses this information to make a landmark case against Presto to take responsibility and hopefully change sourcing and supply of factories.

A Harvest of Thorns is a thought provoking and engaging read, if a times shocking, that will make you stop and think about the clothes you buy.  The novel takes you from the corporate world of Washington DC to the factories and slums in Bangladesh, Jordan and Malaysia.  The plot is hard hitting and deals with corporate ethics, social responsibility, and the exploitation of workers.

The characters are well developed and very believable.  Cameron is a CEO with a heart.  He has experienced personal loss and wants change in respect to corporate responsibility but his hands a tied by the board at Presto.  Josh is trying to regain his journalist career after being disgraced by an affair that also destroyed his marriage, this story is is chance to make things right.  Alya, Sonia and Jashal are victims of the exploitation in the factories, their stories will pull at your heart strings and open your eyes to a different world.

What makes this book even more shocking is that it is based on fact.  In 2012 there was a fire at Tazareen Fashions Factory in Bangladesh where hundreds of workers were killed and injured whist working late to finish an order for American company Walmart.

This is as beautifully written, erudite and informative book that will stay with you long after you have read the last page.  If you read only one book this year, I urge you to read this.  Absolutely brilliant.

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars my Miranda Emmerson published 12 January 2017

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Actress Iolanthe Green walks out of the theatre one Friday night and then disappears. Anna Treadway, Iolanthe’s dresser at the theatre decides that the police are not doing enough to find her, so she decides to go and look for Iolanthe herself.  Her enquiries  take her into the world of London’s clubs where she meets Aloysius, an accountant, who agrees to help her in her search.  Their investigations take them into the work of back street abortions, racism, homophobia and police brutality.  Anna realises that she really didn’t know Iolanthe as well as she thought she did.

 

This is one of those books that you can’t pigeon-hole into one genre; it is a mixture of mystery, romance and history.  The storyline deals with some serious issues that were prevalent in 1960s Britain, and are quite shocking to us today.  An example is how the police treat Aloysius; just because he is with with two women they presume he is a pimp and during the arrest smash his face into the top of the police car.  The plot also has the undercurrent of the Moors Murders and how shocking this was.  The premise of the plot was very good but I felt it was a bit slow paced for me.

The characters all had interesting backgrounds and have come to London to reinvent themselves.  However, in the case of Anna, her background was not explained until the end of the book.  It was not a crucial reveal the would alter the plot and I think if I had learned more about her I would have engaged more with her character.  There was the recurring theme with all the characters of not letting people know the real them,  all are living behind a facade.

This book took me longer to read than most books because it didn’t grab me and make me eager to read more and find out what happened next.  However, it an nice easy read with a lot of detail of the social history of 1960’s London and a good plot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters One,Two,Three by Nancy Star published 1 January 2017

 

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After a tragic accident whilst on holiday at Marthas Vineyard the Tangle family become embroiled in a web of secrets and lies; no one is allowed to talk about what happened that summer or its effects on the family.  They also do not talk about Cally, the youngest sister who goes away to school and then never comes home or has any contact with the family.  Ginger and Mimi, the remaining sisters carry on as if they are only children of Glory, their mother.

Ginger lives in a state of apprehension as she is forever looking for accidents waiting to happen, which is driving a wedge between her and her daughter.  Mimi keeps busy with her three sons and her husbands very large family; neither ever discussing the past.  After the death of their mother, and the return of their younger sister Cally, Ginger decides to find out the truth about that summer in hope to understand her mother more and maybe herself as well.

 

This is a story of s family in an era when certain things were not talked about, and people did not ask questions, and how this effects those caught in the middle.  It is a very different scenario to society today where feelings and traumatic incidents are discussed a lot more.

The book is divided into alternating chapters that tell the story of the current day lives of Ginger, Mimi and their mother Glory, and the summer at Marthas Vineyard when they were children.  At first I did find this a bit confusing as there was nothing to distinguish between the split timeline, with many starting with the names of Ginger or Mimi, so it maybe took a page to realise which era I was reading about.  Apart from that the plot was easy to follow, it was well paced and slowly reveals the story of that summer.

The characters are well developed, and show how a trauma can effect your life;  Ginger is over cautious, always worried about what can go wrong, to the extent where it drives a wedge between her and her daughter.  Mimi just keeps busy and envelopes herself in her husbands large family.  Both are the way they are because of what happened.  My favourite character was Glory, their mother.  She may not have handled things very well but she did what she had to to survive.  I loved her eccentricities and her mixing up of words, her embellishing her acting abilities and quirky sayings.

Sisters One, Two, Three is a lovely book that is well written and easy to read.  It is emotional at times but there is also a lot of humour.  It gives a real insight into a different era where certain subjects were not discussed and you were just expected to get on with your life no matter what happened.  On the whole a very enjoyable read.

 

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land published 12 January 2017

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Annie is now Millie; a new name, a new family and a new life.  As Annie she was the daughter of a serial killer, her mother.

The trial is looming and Millie is being prepped to give evidence against her mother at court.  But, as the trial gets closer Milly starts to hear her mother’s voice in her head, goading her and making her feel insecure about her new life and reminding her that she is her mother’s daughter and doesn’t deserve a new life.   Millie knows she has two choices, to follow the good in her or the bad;  is she just like her mother or can she be different?

 

Good Me, Bad Me is undoubtedly going to be one of the best selling books of 2017, it has great characters, a sense of foreboding and a serial killer whose crimes are very disturbing.  The book is narrated by Millie, and takes the reader from the start of her new life when she goes to the police to hand her mother in, to the trial at the end.  In between we follow Millie as she tries to forge a new identity and all the difficulties she has to deal with.

Millie is a character who engages the reader and encourages empathy due to her background story and how she is now trying to forge a new existence whilst battling demons.  She has a constant battle within her between good and bad, which is hard to control especially when she is being bullied by Phoebe, the daughter of her foster family, who is jealous of Millie’s relationship with her parents.   I will admit I did find her an unsettling character at times;  she is obviously damaged by her mother’s crimes and the reader is left to consider the whole dilemma of nature versus nature.

There is so much tension and anticipation in this novel to the extent of her mother’s crimes.  Throughout the novel the reader is drip-fed information, each piece more disturbing than the last, but as the human condition dictates you need to keep reading to find out more as twisted as it might be.

This novel is shocking and disturbing in parts and it will stay with you long after you read the final page.  It deserves its five star rating and more for the clever plot line, the stomach turning anticipation and its very dark storyline.

 

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer published 3 January 2017

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Eve Singer is a crime reporter with iWitness News, but her career is starting to slip away from her.  Viewers want more detail and footage of murders and her boss is considering replacing her with a younger prettier reporter even though Eve is only twenty-nine.  But Eve has a fan, one who is watching her career closely, who wants to help.  After reporting on two gruesome murders the killer, who sees death as an art form and the victim the centre piece, wants Eve to review his ‘Art Exhibitions’.  This is a chance for Eve to revive her flagging career and keep ahead if the pack.  There is just one problem, the killer has his sights on Eve as his ultimate piece of art, can she outwit him and help to stop his killing spree before becoming his victim?

 

I was pleasantly surprised by this thriller, it had more layers to the storyline than most conventional thrillers. The main storyline about Eve and her relationship with the serial killer is taut with tension and disturbing to say the least.  By the end of the book my stomach was turning with fear and anticipation as the last piece of the killer’s plan was executed.  There is a reference in the book to a painting of Danse Macabre, and it is  very apt description of the killer and his ‘Exhibition’; death dancing round and killing unexacting victims.

The surprising element to this book is the sub-plot of Eve’s father and his battle with Dementia.  This is handled with great empathy and erudition.  As part of this storyline loneliness is also tackled through Eve’s neighbour Mr Elias.  He goes days without seeing or speaking to anyone, but there is also the fact that when he was married he was also very lonely in his marriage after the loss of his daughter.  This sub-plot is a a good counter-babalnce to the main storyline of the killings.

The book also looks closely at Social Media and the impact it now has on the world around us.  Eve has to compete with not only rival journalists and media but with the internet as well as everyone has phones now which can take pictures and record videos at an instant.  This puts a lot of pressure on the media to go that bit further to get the story at whatever cost necessary, even if it means crossing a moral line.

As a character, Eve represents a lot of us in everyday life; she is trying to hold down a job, caring for her father, she doesn’t really speak to her neighbour until she has to and tries to do this on her own, not talking to anyone at work about her situation.  She is an example of many people in society today.  She may come across to others as a confident, strong, independent women when actually she is vulnerable and alone.

This is a stomach clenching,  tense thriller that will keep you awake late into he night. It is just brilliant.

 

Wrapped Up In Nothing by Oli Jacobs published 2016

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Mr Blank, his own choice of name, wakes up in the scorching desert covered head to toe in bandages and with his tongue cut out and finger tips cut off. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there.  Obviously someone doesn’t want him identified or dead as there is the money and water and a phone, although there is no wifi in the desert and he can’t speak.  He decides to try and find out who he is and why he was left in the desert.  He ends up in Rattlers Creek, but rather than finds answers he finds himself asking more questions which the residents don’t want to answer.  Mr Blank finds out he has a talent for making people talk, but will he get the answers he is looking for.

 

The genre of Noir/Thriller is not one I have really read before, but I really enjoyed this book.  The book is narrated by Mr Blank and is told in a very matter of fact way of speaking; no extra drama or histrionics.  He becomes the hero of the story; a chain smoking, alcohol drinking, disfigured hero.  The writing is very good, especially  the candid way the narrative is written as if the events  in. the book are everyday occurrences, including a man with covered in bandage just walking into a town where no one acts strangely to how he looks.  This opens the door to plenty of dark humour

The book grabs your attention from the start and keeps it throughout Mr Blank’s  journey which is fairly gruesome at times; you find  yourself just accepting his injuries, which lets be fair he must have got from a bad encounter with the wrong people, and care what happens to him.  There is no conclusion to this book so you will need to buy the next in the series, Night Train which is not out yet.  I for one will definitely be buying it to learn more about Mr Blank.

Hello readers. I am Oli Jacobs, and I am a man of words.
Not literally a man of words, I should say. I’m not literally made up of words. That would be weird, and physically impossible. Then again, it could make a good short story…
(Note to self: do a short story called Man of Words.)
(Second Note to self: make sure Man of Words doesn’t rip off Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! Hello, I’m Oli Jacobs and… you know what, let’s leave it at “hello”.
I’m mostly known for my Kirk Sandblaster series of Sci-fi Comedy adventures (think Ash from Evil Dead meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with a slash of Flash Gordon) and the Filmic Cuts collections of Short Stories. Aside from that, I’ve just started a Noir Mystery series following the adventures of one Mr Blank, who wakes up in a desert with a thirst for vengeance.
As you can tell, I like my Genre Fiction. Especially the pulpy kind.
Like most writers, I’ve been writing for a long time. There is a legend that I was born with a pen in my hand and a 1000-word synopsis in the other. This is, of course, nonsense, as I was part of a natural, bearded birth.
In terms of actually being a writer though, I’ve only seriously taken my literary ambitions since 2012, when Sunshine & Lollipops (Filmic Cuts volume 1) was published on Amazon Kindle. Since then, I’ve tapped out over a dozen books including the aforementioned Kirk Sandblaster and Mr Blank, and plan to continue assaulting the reading world with more in the future.
Why? Because I’m like most writers: mad and slightly driven by a faint need for praise…
Which brings me to the writers I like the most. Give me an HP Lovecraft or Stephen King, and I’ll probably wonder who you are and how you got into my bathroom. But after that, I’d thank you for the book, and dive into a world of Horror, both cosmic and based in Maine (or both!). I am a film snob as well, so a lot of my stories have that hint of the cinematic, with filmmakers like Kubrick and Fincher taking high spots in my favoured visual tastes.
Now, people ask me how they can become an author, and I usually say a strong thirst for alcohol, and the ability to hide yourself in a dark room with only a typewriter for company. Aside from that, the simple answer is to just write. The old cliché of everyone having a story inside of them is, some would say, just plain ol’ nonsense. But, everyone has a voice, and if you can figure out how to apply that voice to page, then you can probably bash out a quick tale or two. Hell, look at internet comment sections for example. If they can do it, anyone can!
Most of all, though, one writes because of the passion. I love telling stories and sharing them with the world, whether they like them or not. As long as one person has got something out of the words that have spilt from my head, then I’ve done my job. Not that writing is a job, of course, because if it were I’d definitely be asking for a pay rise right about now. The wolves are at ol’ Oli J’s door…
So yes, that’s me, Oli Jacobs. Writer, rambler, and questionable human being. If you want to read more of my words, check me out on Amazon and Lulu.com, or simply go to your local bookstore, demand a copy of my book, get kicked out, and then go onto Amazon or Lulu.com.
Just don’t turn up outside my shower. My paperbacks get wet inside there, and it’s weird. So very weird.