Netgalley, review

The Girl At The Window By Rowan Coleman

I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love reading books that dip from past to present to solve mysteries and the synopsis caught my attention. Especially the “centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors” which had a gothic vibe.

Synopsis from Netgalley:

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…”

My thoughts

In the first few chapters we’re introduced to Trudy and her son Will.  Trudy takes her son back to her childhood home to heal after the loss of her husband. Will keeps saying that his father isn’t dead. And they didn’t find a body.

I loved this book.When I started reading I didn’t want to stop. Straight away I liked and cared about Trudy and her son and I loved Ponden Hall. The house had a gothic presence but it wasn’t a malignant one, at least not to the Heaton’s who had lived there for generations. I couldn’t stop reading to follow Trudy’s search as she unravelled the mystery of Agnes who many years ago lived in Ponden Hall. 

I loved that Emily Bronte visited there in the past and the box bed in one of the rooms was the inspiration for Cathy’s in Wuthering Heights. I’m a lover of classic books and of course Wuthering Heights and this book feels like a homage to the Brontes and especially Wuthering Heights. The story is not the same but it has a similar gothic atmosphere. I feel like this book was written especially for me and for readers like me.

If you love gothic, literary fiction with a historical mystery like I do this book is perfect. I only regret reading it so quickly because it was so good. I wish I could’ve savoured it, but it was hard to stop reading. 

I don’t think the synopsis does this book justice and I don’t know if I can express how much I enjoyed it.

Have I found another favourite author?

 

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review

Skin by Ilka Tampke SPOILERS

This book has been on my tbr for a while, it’s brilliant to have one less book on my tbr. This was the third book I read as part of my Summer Reading Challenge.

My Thoughts

I was hooked by the mystery surrounding Ailia, she was abandoned as a baby and not knowing her mother she was born without ‘Skin’ and treated differently by the community. The era the book is set in, Celtic Britain, was also what drew me in, it reminded me a bit of The Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (lots of similarities! a lovely book I haven’t read in ages but want to again). I enjoyed the atmosphere of the book, until there was a ritual involving human sacrifice. Reading that I was ready to quit reading but continued anyway.

Once I got passed that point I became hooked again and couldn’t stop reading. There was always something happening, the plot moved on seamlessly and I was never bored. It seemed a perfect story that drew me in.

Until the end. The end was so disapointing,  I don’t know whether the end was to prove some point about trying and failing, SPOILER, Ailia fails. The end made it all pointless: there was no point to her journey as she didn’t accomplish anything for the greater good, only for herself. At the end of this type of book, you expect a high point, a success. Even a small one.

If felt like it was left open for a sequel, which I will not be reading, and maybe that was the point. Maybe the point was that the Romans win. I don’t know. You could say it’s realistic, I guess. But I didn’t like it, and felt like I’d wasted my time reading this book to have such a dissatifying ending. She could’ve had one win.

SPOILER She’s given this sword, if you kill with it then you can’t use it for any other purpose. She needs this sword to pierce a veil and save someone but she kills with it to save another. And she told her tribe a lie because she couldn’t see the future, if she hadn’t maybe they would’n’t have all been killed!

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I’d love to know what others have thought of this book?

I know this is the second negative review… Don’t worry it’s looking up. I’m reading a wonderful book at the moment. It’s utterly perfect. One of those books that make me an instant fan of the author.

Watch this space. 🙂

review

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew

The Magician’s Nephew was the second book in my Summer of Reading Challenge (3 books read so far). I’m way behind in my reviews/blog posts at the moment. Hopefully I’ll catch up.

I was offered the opportunity to read this book in exchange for review from the online shop Books 2 Doors.   I’ve never read the Narnia books before so this was  a good opportunity for me to finally read them.

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My Thoughts

The fantasy world of The Magician’s Nephew was interesting and compelling. But I didn’t realise that it was a prequel and I was starting to wonder if the story had a point. The pace was good and I was riveted but I was left feeling a little bit disapointed.

This book is considered a classic but some of it’s ideas are not very original and copy from christian tales which was disapointing in a fantasy story. The mention of “Sons of Adam and Eve,”  and the bit with the apple trees. I thought a popular fantasy author like C.S Lewis would’ve had more imagination than that.

I didn’t like the view point because the narrator/author kept talking to the reader and it was distracting. Other things can be blamed on the era: the evil character, cheesey and cliched. Also the stereotypical way Polly was treated.

I also didn’t like how everything in Narnia just appeared out of thin air, it was boring. Our world evolved and it’s more interesting to see how life has evolved to suit it’s living conditions and to see traces of prehistory like dinosaurs. Narnia just appeared. 

It’s a shame to write a negative review of a classic. I do wonder if children may enjoy this book, it’s different reading this type of book as an adult. I did enjoy parts of this story and was riveted but a lot left me disapointed.

I am going to read the next book The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe at some point, after I’ve recovered from this one, just in the hope that it will improve. I wish I’d started with that book as I didn’t really see the point of this one.

Have you read this book or the other Narnia books? What did you think?

About Books 2 Doors

Books 2 Doors sells mainly children’s books at low prices, although there’s a few adult books in the mix including: Thomas Harris, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The All Souls Trilogy, (my favourite trilogy). And some non-fiction.

When I ordered my books, The Chronicles Of Narnia and The Percy Jackson they arrived very quickly.

“Here at Books2Door, we want to encourage a love of reading in all children. That’s why we have been offering exceptional books at affordable prices since 2004.
We select books that we know your children will fall in love with, from treasured classics to the latest must-have series. With our extensive range of authors and genres, there is something for every child, from reluctant readers to eager bookworms. 
Our service doesn’t stop there: our friendly team are on hand to ensure that your shopping experience with us is enjoyable and hassle-free. You can be sure that your books will arrive on time and in great condition.
We look forward to being a part of your next story.
Books2Door”

review

Summer Reading: Sealskin by Su Bristow

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I’ve finished two books in my Summer Reading Challenge. 🙂 This was the first one. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time. If you love supporting indie authors this book is for you, it’s published by Orenda Books  

What attracted me to this book besides it’s indie is the location of Scotland and the retelling of a Scottish legend.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set.”

My Thoughts

This beautiful story drew me right in, it flows seamlessly. It begins when Donald watches some seals and sees something miraculous which changes his life. Donald is a very human character, with flaws and he makes a mistake which he tries to atone for. He’s an introvert and doesn’t really talk much to others in the community but after this moment at the beginning of the book this has to change. Every character is realistic and you get a real sense of life in a small coastal village, surviving on the fishermen’s catch and their own farms. How hard it can be and how close the community is.

I don’t want to give away too much of the narrative except to say that this is a wonderful retelling of a Scottish legend, it doesn’t take anything away and is perfect.

The hardest reviews to write are for the books you enjoy so much because you can’t really put into words how much you enjoy it, if I had to chose a few words to describe this book I’d say: magical, immersive, mythical, beautiful.

I enjoyed every moment of this book and it’s characters.

 

 

review

From Story Idea To Reader by Rosemary J. Kind and Patsy Collins

From Story Idea to Reader cover art

I was asked to review a audible copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I agreed as it’s one my wishlist. I’ve read a lot of writing books over the years and own a few and this one definitely stood out from the rest.

Synopsis

“From Story Idea to Reader is an easily accessible guide to writing fiction. Whether you are brushing up on your writing skills or starting out, this book will take you through the whole process from inspiration to conclusion. No matter if you are looking to submit your work for publication, enter a competition, or want to self-publish, this practical guide will help you every step of the way.

Between them, Patsy Collins and Rosemary Kind have sold hundreds of short stories, written 16 published books, and produced numerous articles for Writing Magazine and similar publications. They’ve both judged writing competitions and run workshops, and Rosemary has read and edited thousands of short stories and published dozens of books for other writers.”

My Thoughts

This book is perfect for beginners with lots of practical information many other books don’t even brush on: how to start, finding the space to writing, finding the time and what you really need. Specifically how to start your writing journey/career if you’re on a budget. The first book I’ve read that gives you this advice.

The first part of this book is how to write and the second part gives information about practical advice regarding formatting and markets. I recommend this book above all others for beginners and people who want to earn a living from writing. Most books spend a lot of time telling you how to write but not much on how to make a career. I’ve never read a book that told me about the right formatting and how to implement it on a word processor! This book even tells you about taxes!

Although I said it’s for beginners I’m not really a beginner and straight away I learnt things from this book: After listening to the ‘where do you get your ideas’ bit I was inspired and had an idea of how to come at a story from a different angle. There’s a section on dialogue and they mention using speech tags, saying that sometimes you don’t need to use them at all.  And then: tips about backing up your work and how to use what you know to inspire your writing, making a note of what names you have used and titles not to overuse them in other future works.
There’s something for writers of all levels in this book. 

What makes this books stand out from all the others: it’s written using the personal experience of the authors. It reads like a conversation between friends telling you how they write and how you can start and continue your writing career. Most books on writing take ages to read and they are how-to or report like books, but From Story Idea To Reader has no waffle and gets straight to the point with worthwhile knowledge others books don’t give or only skim.This definitely deserves a place on any writers’ bookshelf.

There’s a lot of books about writing and it’s hard to know which ones stand out and are going to teach you and which ones are just a regurgitation of every other book or give you a promise that could be fulfilled in a blog post rather than buying a whole book. I’ve read a few and own quite a few. This one stands out and has something for writers at every stage of this journey/career.
I’m going to have to get a physical copy of this book and reread it, I realised I prefer to read books rather than listen and whilst listening to it I didn’t do the exercises at the end of each chapter. So excuse to get a copy!

You can find this book here on Amazon. 

 

 

review

A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E.Schwab

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I only recently heard about this author for the first time on a writing podcast by Tim Clare  (whose book The Ice House I’ve reviewed and bought a copy of  and The Honours), the interview was interesting and V.E. Schwab’s books sounded amazing. So I had to read them, I bought this from Waterstones.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

My Thoughts

When I started reading this book I was going through a phase of reading a lot of fantasy. And this fantasy world is so different, the magic in the book is so unique. I love it when I read something different, something that stands out.

I was hooked from the start. The characters are brilliant, people I quickly liked and cared about.  Leila is a thief, she has to be to survive but she wants to be a pirate and own her own ship! I love that! (being a Pirates of the carribean fan), she’s quite violent but I love her strength. And she’s entertaining, a character whose story you will want to follow.

Kell is one of the last remaining Antari, he cares so much for his brother. He smuggles objects between the three Londons which is intriguing.

The three Londons?  Red and White London  have magic and Grey London is like an older version of our world with no magic. There is a fourth but it’s sealed. I love the idea. It’s an interesting fantasy world and I want to read more. The settings are so detailed and easy to visualise.

Athos and Astrid the rulers of white London are really chilling characters which I enjoyed as a horror fan. Except their treatment of people is barbaric but they are intriguing and show how much white London has lost it’s magic.

I had so much sympathy for George in grey London.

There’s so much going on in this book, it’s action packed and riveting so you may read this book quicker than you’d like to. I tried to savour it but I couldn’t stop reading, the drip feed of intriguing information made me want to turn the page to find out what’s next.

There are more books in the series, A Gathering of Shadows and Shades of Light which I will be reading!

The one thing that really made me love this book even more: the main problem/conflict was resolved by the end of the book, despite it being part of a series. I loved that because I don’t like it when you get to the end of book one and you have to read the (4/5) books to find out the answer to a burning question. This ended perfectly and with plenty of possibility for the next books shich I really want ot read. I loved it!

I didn’t want to give too much away so apologies if my information may be a bit vague.

 

review

Little Creepers by Jessica Walsh

Little Creepers

There was a campaign on Twitter, authors were looking for reviews for their books and this is one of the books I jumped at the chance to review. So I need to say: I recieved this ebook free in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from GoodReads

“Fear isn’t always loud. It doesn’t always scream or announce itself with a loud thud on the closet door. Sometimes it creeps, slithers and crawls.Sometimes it’s waiting in the shadows, whispering as you pass by.These stories may not scare you, but one or two whispers may just burrow into the back of your brain.They may make you shiver at night and consider, for just a moment, that maybe you left the front door unlocked and maybe those were footsteps you heard inside. Little Creepers contains 14 short stories, written by Jessica Walsh, meant to creep and crawl up your spine.”

My thoughts

That synopsis says it all really. I love horror and I don’t read enough of it so I get excited when I read it again and I never realise how much I miss it. Then I read this and it’s so good.

These short stories feature some characters who are scared of mundane things, a fog on a screen, tracks in the snow. But they are described in such a chilling way and quite scary you wonder by the end is this real?

I loved all these stories but here’s a snapshot of my favourites:

Giving In, a short poignant tale that pulls at the heart. it’s quite scary and you can hear the sounds and see the images.

Toothache, my favourite, it’s written in second person and wow! You can feel the pain the character is in.

For Sale, this one was about selling copies of parts of yourself for money, it was very well done. The character was thinking about how her skin (pigment and freckles) and other parts of her body like her toes could be on someone else. Perfectly horrible!

There was a longer story  My Life about this guy who moves into a new place and…. …weird. Nicholas is lonely! 

They’re all great. Short, creepy, tense and riveting.

If you love horror you need to read this! It’s so good. I’ll be reading this again!

If you don’t like horror take note and give this a go for Halloween. (Here’s the link to buy)

The title of this collection is apt, these  stories are Little Creepers!