Thursday, 19 November 2015

Review of "The Deathsniffer's Assistant" by Kate McIntyre

I haven't read a fantasy novel in YEARS, and this was definitely a good'un to return to the genre with. The trick with fantasy novels is to make them believable, and I think if the author doubts themself, or the story they are writing in it's potential veracity, then the story is lost to the world of poor quality fantasy novels (of which there are many). However, MycIntyre makes it possible for readers to utterly immerse themselves in the world of The Deathsniffer's Assistant with her excellent prose and manifold plot streams. If you've ever read any of Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, I would say that this is probably a read for you. Mixing darkness with love, honour and a little bit of social scheming, The Deathsniffer's Assistant is definitely going on my list as a 2015 must-read.

Chris didn't choose to be his younger sister's guardian, but after the incident at the Floating Castle left them orphaned he had no choice. Now, a few years on the family inheritance is starting to run dry and Chris must find a job to support himself and Rosemary. However, when he was categorized, as all young men and women are, he was designated to become a simple wordweaver: something that is hardly highly regarded, or highly paid for that matter. The only job he can get is with a Deathsniffer. Although Truthsniffers in their own right are a decent sort of folk, one that specialises in death, and more so, proclaims that they are a Deathsniffer is bound to be a little ... repellant. But, faced with either working for the Deathsniffer or ending up in abject poverty, Chris must join forces with this individual and seek the murderer of a member of the old blood: Duke Val Darens. 

However, perhaps there are darker forces at work even than the person who so brutally killed the Duke and defaced his dead body. Rosemary's secret wizardly binding skills have been kept hidden for years by Chris, but with the creatures starting to break loose from their binds, causing damage and turmoil everywhere, perhaps it will be harder to keep her safe than he'd ever thought ...

Have you read it? What did you think?

Steph x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Review of "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

The last few books I've read have been a bit disappointing, so I was overjoyed when I started this. The quality of writing and content was absolutely astounding. Being a bit of a grammar nerd, usually I come across what I call "clumpy" sentences, or phrases that just sound wrong and make me cringe a little, but I found reading this utterly smooth and joyful. The message was also really important: it was all about a little girl learning how hard it was to grow up in a world so utterly biased, and how confusing it can be for a child to begin to learn the implications of race in a world where nothing is fair.

Lily needs to get away from her father T Ray. After the death of her mother (which Lily berates herself for causing), T Ray and one of the coloured fruit pickers from the farm, Rosaleen, who becomes Lily's replacement mother, are the only people Lily's got in the world. Or so she thinks. When Rosaleen goes to put her name down for a vote and is racially abused by some men she reacts aggressively, landing herself a place in the local prison. Due to the racial nature of her attack, she is beaten so badly she is sent to hospital, where Lily breaks her out of.

On the run, they go to the only other place in the world Lily can imagine: the town her mother inscribed on the back of a black Madonna - one of only three of her mother's items that Lily owns. There her and Rosaleen are kindly taken in by three coloured sisters: May, June and August. Although a little skeptical about housing a white girl at first, the sister's start to deal with the racial issues inside and outside of their home all under the guidance of their black Madonna statue. Will this idyll be a haven for Lily and Rosaleen, or will it end in tragedy?

Have you read it? What did you think?

Steph x

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Review of "A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother"

I like to think that I can pick up any book and immerse myself in it's world, and this is the last one in a while that I've actually felt oddly excluded from. I'm not a mother, and don't understand the politics of the playground, so all of the jokes about the clique of playground mothers, donned the "playground mafia", etc didn't go over my head - believe me, I've met mothers who insist that their little darling is a perfect beam of sunshine - but rather simply weren't funny to me. Plus, I was bothered by the fact that this book's plot was exactly what it said on the tin, as it were: it simply went through a year in the life of a playground mother. Each chapter was a month, and each month described this mother's activities: which mothers she was friends with, who her children were friends with, and who was having an affair in the village. In short, half of the book was occupied with the narrator complaining about selfish mothers who formed cliques and sought gossip about one another, and the other half was occupied with the narrator doing exactly that.

Rachel Young moves away from the suburbs to the country in the hope of being released from the grip of a playground mafia. These are the women who inspect other children's reading levels to ensure that their own child is best of the best. BUT this village turns out to be filled with even more odd characters than her home town. From Camilla, who often forgets she has a daughter as well as a son and a multitude of coats in her wardrobe, roving-eye Rupert, Mr F.P (Frisky Pensioner), and more, Rachel's life is going to be anything but peaceful for the next year.

Have you read it? What did you think? 

Steph x

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Review of "The Lie" by C. L. Taylor

2015 has been a year of thrillers for me. Not typically a genre I go for, my eyes have been opened to the intensity and mystery they ensconce. This book seemed to have been on a couple of book bloggers' creepy Halloween books to read lists, so I thought it was worth a go. However, i have to say I was largely disappointed. Have you ever read a book where it's felt like the author almost made an amazing book and it's super frustrating because they hadn't quite achieved it?! This was one of those for me: I think it needed about another 100 pages or so to explain some backstory. There were half-explanations of all of the main characters' back stories, but not enough to make them interesting or explain their actions. This is not to say that the book was without merit however, it was dark and downright scary at points. So, if you want something that will make you question every bump in the night or weird coincidence, give this a shot!

Jane, or Emma as she used to be known, just wants a normal life, and to leave her past behind her. Settled down in a new relationship (which bears its own challenges) and working in her dream job at an animal rescue centre, she thinks she's finally nailed it. That is until someone sends something to her addressed to her old name, and a mysterious message stating "Daisy is not dead" appears on the website of the animal rehabilitation centre she works at. 

Five years before, Emma and her three best friends Leanne, Al and Daisy take the trip of a lifetime to Nepal to escape the woes of their mundane post-university lives. However, once they enter a retreat up in the Nepalese mountains things go a bit haywire. Things start getting weird up there: the girls are forced to turn against one another, encouraged to have sex with the men at the retreat no strings attached, and people start to go missing ... What will Emma do when the girl she thought would have her back forever, Daisy starts to change, and leave Emma behind? Is Emma imagining the subtle threat at Ekantra Yata, or is there something a lot more sinister going on than the brochure suggested?

Have you read it? What did you think?

Steph x