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Bookish "Cupcake Queen" (Somerset)

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Behind Closed Doors: The gripping debut thriller everyone is raving about
Behind Closed Doors: The gripping debut thriller everyone is raving about
Price: £1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, disturbing and unforgettable..., 11 Feb. 2016
I read this in one sitting, apart from the first twenty pages or so. I had to put it down to get a train and thanks to travel sickness rearing its ugly head I had to wait to read it until I got home. It's probably just as well. Behind Closed Doors is one of the best books I have read in a while and it frightened the life out of me. Whilst reading it I couldn't settle, I had to keep getting up and walking about while continuing to read as Grace and Jack's story developed.

Grace and Jack are the perfect couple. They met, fell in love, had a whirlwind romance and got married. Jack accepted that Grace cared for her younger sister which made Grace fall for him even faster. Scratch the surface though and not everything is as it seems.

Alternating between past and present Behind Closed Doors paints a chilling portrait of domestic abuse, but the psychological kind - not physical, which to me is just as frightening and just as threatening. Using Millie as a means to control her everyone is awed by how amazing Grace is, the perfect hostess, the perfect wife, the perfect sister... She never goes anywhere though, and on the rare occasion she does you can guarantee Jack is not far behind. When a new couple are introduced into their social circle there is a subtle shift in power though. This coincides with Millie's upcoming 18th birthday - the day she will come to live with Grace and Jack. Grace is determined that this is never going to happen so starts to formulate a plan. What happens after that is a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly fear but also small glimmers of hope and the possibility that there might be a future for the sisters after all.

If you looked up fear, disturbed, terrifying and other similar words in the dictionary you would find perfect descriptions of Behind Closed Doors. This is one of the most disturbing books about psychological abuse I've read in recent years and I literally could not put the book down until I had finished it. It was painful to read the way Grace was treated, you could picture yourself in the same situation - locked in a tiny room, estranged from family and friends with nowhere to turn. The situation isn't helped by the irony of the fact that Jack is a prominent barrister specializing in domestic abuse cases!

This is the author's debut novel and if her first is this brilliant I look forward to reading whatever else she writes. The writing is both gripping and chilling. Jack as a character is one of the most manipulative and deceitful I've ever met, impossible to do do anything but hate and while I didn't like Grace to start with I soon warmed to her and her battle to survive, her willingness to sacrifice everything for Millie was heartbreaking. By the time I got to the last few chapters I was literally walking around whilst reading with my mouth hanging open, I could not sit still because I was terrified about how it was all going to end. All I will say about that is that even just a little faith in other people sometimes has the biggest rewards.

If you are looking for a page turner, a stunning debut, a perfect psychological thriller, then you probably won't get much better than Behind Closed Doors. I certainly won't forget this book for a long time and I already know it's in my list of top ten books for 2016.

Funko Pop Movies - Harry Potter - Severus Snape Action Figure
Funko Pop Movies - Harry Potter - Severus Snape Action Figure
Offered by ToyNARA
Price: £7.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent addition to the Funko Pop! Family.

Star Wars - The Imperial Handbook - A Commanders Guide
Star Wars - The Imperial Handbook - A Commanders Guide
by Daniel Wallace
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Have Cookies..., 18 Sept. 2015
Welcome to the Dark Side, we have cookies! Sorry, I always want to say that...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is on its way and so naturally there's a need for all things Star Wars catering to both those who are decades long fans and those new to the Saga. Daniel Wallace's Imperial Handbook is one such item.

Beautifully illustrated and well planned this is one of the last remaining copies of the Imperial Handbook given to newly promoted comanders of the Imperial Army. Found after the destruction of the first Death Star this copy though has fallen into the hands of the rebels and given them a huge advantage. Details of just about anything Imperial you can think of make this book a goldmine in the right (or wrong) hands.

From propaganda posters, tips on what to do during free time and tech knowledge of the Death Star (including those all important exhaust ports *nudge nudge*) to battle tactics and uniform detail this is a comprehensive guide to all things Imperial Commander. Solo, Leia, Antilles, Rieekan and of course Skywalker have all found it to be an invaluable source of knowledge if the annotations found scattered throughout the handbook are anything to go by.

A truly stunning guide, of interest to those who favor the Dark or the Light... We have cookies, did I mention that???

Ascension of the Whyte: Volume 1 (The Afterland Chronicles)
Ascension of the Whyte: Volume 1 (The Afterland Chronicles)
by Karen Wrighton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to believe it's a debut book!, 20 Aug. 2014
Ascension of the Whyte is the first book in a series called The Afterland Chronicles and is an intriguing fantasy that will have you turning the pages. I'm a sucker for any book that starts with a map so I couldn't wait to see the places on the map described so I could picture them in my head.

The beginning of the book opens with Sara chatting to a friend as they leave school and ends with a sudden & horrific death. We're then transported to another dimension and the story really begins. We are introduced to a whole new way of life where, when you die, your soul ascends and becomes another person who may or may not have ascended many times before. Meet Rose, the first Whyte Ascendant for a thousand years, who with Ash, Auriel and Lee, make a very select cell who will save the world of Hydrarygrum if a prophecy written centuries before is to be believed.

I found it quite hard to believe that this was a debut novel. The writing was mostly extremely well written and each & every character had their own distinct voice. The magical system created was nothing short of amazing and quite frankly there were one or two potens (or abilities) that I would love to be real. The ability to read dozens of books in mere minutes would have come in very handy at school!

I became so immersed in the world Karen has created that I didn't even realize that it was starting to get light outside, I managed to read Ascension of the Whyte from start to finish and get to watch the sun come up! If you like your fantasy well thought out with an intriguing magic system, djinns who want to take over the world and characters who will become friends then this is the book for you. Karen has created a fascinating world which made me laugh and made me well up, I was thoroughly entranced by the writing and the characters. Also, as a word of warning, Karen isn't afraid to kill characters off so don't get too attached! I'm now desperate to read the next book in the series as things are just getting warmed up. Need another beta reader?

To Bear an Iron Key
To Bear an Iron Key
by Jackie Morse Kessler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.20

4.0 out of 5 stars An original fairy story, 8 Aug. 2014
This review is from: To Bear an Iron Key (Paperback)
I find it hard to resist stories involving the fey/fairies/faeries so when I read the synopsis for To Bear An Iron Key it went straight on to my wishlist and I jumped at the chance to join the blog tour.

Bromwyn lives in a world where her grandmother is known as Wise One, her mother is Mistress Cartomancer and Bromwyn herself is in training to become a full-fledged witch and betrothed to Brend, the blacksmith's apprentice. The action all starts when Rusty (real name - Derek!) steals something from the wrong person, Bromwyn's grandmother but it soon becomes clear that this has somehow come about as part of Bromwyn's final test before finishing her apprenticeship. What looks like a swirling silver marble turns out to be the iron key that locks the World Door where the Fey come through once a year, on Midsummer's Eve. She knows this can't possibly be a good thing and is more worried about what it means for Rusty, as the one who bears the Key is the Guardian of the door, has to deal with the Fey and ensuring chaos doesn't ensue whilst they are free in the human world.

Rusty surprises her though, by showing that he can be mature and not act the fool - he interacts with the Fey as if he had been doing it all his life and he finally be the man he wants Bromwyn to see, not just the little boy who has been her best friend for so long. I loved all the characters in TBAIK, Bromwyn and Rusty were fantastic main characters and the supporting characters too were well written, well developed and likeable - even the bad guys of the piece! The relationship between Bromwyn and Rusty was great, truly believable 'best friends' with the hint of something more - no instalove here thankfully. Bromwyn's relationships with her mother and grandmother were much more complicated, there seemed to a lot of resentment and anger on Bromwyn's part but this all added to the authenticity of the characters. Both the writing and the world-building were fantastic, you find yourself completely immersed in village life, down to the finest detail and I completely agree with Bromwyn's need to be barefoot all the time. It was the little details like this that made TBAIK a really lovely read, it has a dollop of fantasy, fairy tale, romance and mystery that would make it appeal to both a YA and older MG audience. The Fey in TBAIK were more 'real' than a lot of fairy books, there were no sparkling and glitter bombs here, just a great read! I'm not sure if TBAIK is a stand-alone or a series but either way if you like books about the Fey (that aren't Tinkerbell like) then do make sure to read Iron Key, it's got a bit of something for everybody and I'd love to see more of the world Jackie has created.

Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This could be real life..., 31 May 2014
This review is from: GLAZE (Kindle Edition)
The scary thing about Kim Curran's new novel, Glaze, is that it could happen. The entire story has the potential to happen at some point in our future, in some ways we're already halfway there. I think this is what made Glaze such a fantastic read for me, the recognition of the fact that in a few years this could well be us!

Petri is the last of her school year to be hooked up to Glaze, the ultimate social network to which anyone in the world over the age of 16 is hooked up to - unless you're a criminal or undesirable. Trust me, Twitter, Facebook and all those other social media sites we waste our time on have nothing on Glaze - especially because we don't have a chip in our heads to connect. Glaze is the brainchild of Max White, a man who Petri has looked up to all her life and thinks of as a surrogate father. As her mother Zizi likes to point out a lot, Petri is a sperm donor baby, hence her unusual name.

When Petri gets into trouble after a protest gone wrong (organized by her crush, Ryan) disaster strikes and as far as Peri is concerned her life is over. Fitted with a blank chip by the police and banned from Glaze until she is 21 Petri is desperate to be hooked up so takes a dangerous step that endangers those she loves and threatens the very thing she is so distraught about missing out on. Introduced to some young hackers by the boy who initially rescues her at the protest Petri's life soon descends into madness, hooked up at last to Glaze but it's not how she thought it would be and she is constantly bombarded with information and in true typical teenage fashion goes about trying to fix things the wrong way.

Glaze is one of the books where you start reading and you get so drawn into the story you just don't want to put it down. The characters are well written and well developed, Petri felt like a completely believable teenager trying too hard to be like everyone else to fit in, on the outside looking in and when things don't work out the way she wants them she reacts like a teenager to start with, with naivety and blind belief but by the end has grown and is starting to develop into someone who you would want to know. The book is ultimately a thriller about technology and trying to fit in but there is a hint of romance, Ethan was one of my favourite characters - surly teenage boy, also working out where he belongs, having been in a young offender's institute this is harder from him in some ways but also easier in view of the fact that he's not hooked up to Glaze and is happy about this. The hackers are an interesting group of people, especially for Petri knowing that her mother also used to be a hacker extraordinaire!

Full of mayhem and intrigue, Glaze is a unique story about the dangers of social media and whether ultimately it can be good or bad - especially for teenagers who already know far more about it than I do and my teen years aren't that far behind me. The story is fast paced but never overloads you, the development and technology were fascinating and as I said at the beginning of my review could be coming to a chip near you soon! If futuristic novels rooted in real life with a strong cast of characters and great writing sounds like something you would enjoy you definitely need to read Glaze. Oh, and as a word of warning, there is a death in this book that I found really upsetting. I can't say who/what because I don't want to spoil anything but it was a nasty thing done by a group of people blindly following the orders of one man who is ruthless and determined to see the world his way. Sound like something in real life?

Mistress of the Wind
Mistress of the Wind
by Michelle Diener
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous retelling of a Norse fairy tale, 1 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Mistress of the Wind (Paperback)
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love fairy tales and retellings which is why I leapt at the chance to read & review Mistress of the Wind, a retelling of the Norse fairy tale East of the Sun,West of the Moon. The original story is only about twenty pages long but gives plenty of scope for an expanded tale which is exactly what Diener has done, along with the added twist of making Astrid, the female main character, a more formidable girl/woman in her own right. Mistress of the Wind stays true to the original tale but more detail and background are given to make it a much longer read.

Bjorn is searching for the woman he believes will break the enchantment he has been placed under by the troll that married his father. He has one year to find her, in the guise of a giant white bear, and if he fails his future lies with the troll's daughter as her husband while she rules over his father's kingdom. Bjorn finds Astrid and as per the rules of the enchantment she accompanies him to his ice palace where she must stay for a year without laying eyes on him, either in his bear or human form. Of course, no-one can ever resist temptation and the inevitable happens, Bjorn is lost to her. However Astrid is not just your average girl from a fairy tale. In this version although she makes a lot of silly decisions she has power over the winds so with the help of Bjorn's allies & friends she sets out to find him. We then follow her journey to east of the sun and west of the moon, along the way she undergoes various trials and finally discovers who she is & how Bjorn seemed to know her. Although I loved the characters of Astrid and Bjorn, I think my favorites were the winds - especially North, who more than atones for his wrongdoings, and Jorgen the forest creature, a close friend of Bjorn's.

As Mistress of the Wind follows its predecessor so closely it's difficult to say much without giving things away but this was a thoroughly enjoyable retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon which is definitely worth reading either before or after this one if you're not already familiar with the story. Ms Diener's writing is delightful and so descriptive, especially in the latter half of the book when Astrid is traveling with the winds and I could have quite easily carried on reading for some time thanks to the wonderful world the characters inhabited brought to life by the author's writing style and obvious love of the original fairy tale. My only quibble, and the reason why I gave Mistress of the Winds four rather than five clocks, is that the story is described as an adult retelling but apart from one distinct mention of body parts, 'fade to black' scenes and numerous mentions of the word lover I can't quite understand why it's not classed as YA. Don't let this put you off though, it is one of my favorite retellings in the Beauty & the Beast/Cupid & Psyche vein and I will be buying a copy to add to my fairy tale collection and looking out for The Golden Apple, Michelle Diener's retelling of another Norse fairy tale, The Princess on the Glass Hill coming later this year.

by Amanda Gray
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.74

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but needed more time travel!, 13 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Endless (Paperback)
As soon as I saw the beautiful cover for Endless I was sold, that was only confirmed on discovering that the book was about Russian history, reincarnation and time travel. Russian history and time travel are two things guaranteed to get me to read something (I've been slightly obsessed with Russia since I was little) so I couldn't wait to start Endless.

Endless is the story of Jenny, a bit of a loner and different to the rest of her school friends with a wonderful best friend, Tiffany (one of my favorite characters) and an architect father who's reluctant to let her pursue her dream of being an artist thanks to her mother's erratic behavior. The story opens with Jenny being pressured to take part in a seance using a Ouija board, after blacking out she discovers that a message did come through - meant for her. From that night on Jenny can no longer pretend her life is normal, to living with the power of seeing people's past lives with a mere brush of the hand, she spends her days wearing gloves and avoiding touch. Thanks to her dad she meets Ben, the son of a client, who seems as much of a loner as she does. Exploring the attic of Ben's house they come across a music box and instructions for mesmerization. This leads to a shared dream/vision between the two of them and the realization that somehow their lives, along with of another boy, Nikolai, are inexplicably linked together. Things only get more complicated for the three of them as they fight to understand what is going on and in the case of Jenny & Nikolai, stay together. They face all manner of obstacles, not least a mysterious Order that live in an isolated retreat and may or may not have included Jenny's mother as a member.

For me, Endless was a great read which I enjoyed from start to finish. I loved how, even though there were two boys in Jenny's life (in the past as well as the present) there was no love triangle - it was obvious, to me anyway, who Jenny should be with but considering the circumstances I would have liked to have seen more of their relationship development in the past as Jenny was very quick to literally jump into his arms in the present. I liked the snippets of Russian history and the inclusion of the Romanov family who must be both one of the most famous and one of the most tragic families in history. It was nice that at least in fiction one of them had a happy ending of sorts.. What I would have loved to see more of was the actual time travel although I did like the sections where how it worked was explained and how there were rules & consequences for using time travel, hence the need for the Order. I'm definitely hoping there's a sequel as that was one ending I did not like, it certainly appears to be set up for one anyway so fingers crossed! If you like mystery, time travel and Russian history with a dash of romance then you'll love Endless, definitely worth reading.

Unchosen: Book 2 in The Reaper Diaries: Volume 2
Unchosen: Book 2 in The Reaper Diaries: Volume 2
by Michele Vail
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Gods and zombies, 13 Dec. 2013
I read the first book, Undeadly, earlier this year and loved it so have been patiently waiting for the second book ever since.

Molly has put the events of the first book behind her and is now concentrating on her training, especially as there's to be a competition to discover who the Champion of Anubis is. Molly is not impressed by this considering she was told by Anubis himself that she is the Champion and the fact that her main competition is Clarissa, her arch-enemy at the Academy. No sooner than Molly starts to relax then mayhem ensues, Anubis has somehow disappeared and is not answering any of her summons, her relationship with Rath is becoming more & more confusing by the day, the mother she never really knew makes a re-appearance but most alarming of all someone is making this personal and attacking her family.

Having loved the first book I found Unchosen a little bit slower, there was still some action and I got used to the entries from Molly's journal at the end of each chapter which added a lot of information that would maybe not have worked if it was included as dialogue in the actual story. I really liked that Molly's circle of friends were included more in this one and her ghoul, Henry, cemented his place as one of my favorite characters in the series, along with Molly herself and Rath. I love how Molly is not another helpless female character relying on the main male character to solve her problems, she may be a bit hopeless now & then which is completely understandable considering how much her life has changed recently but she does have a habit of leaping before looking! If you like YA paranormal fantasy then you can't really go wrong with The Reaper Diaries, both are nice solid reads with action, romance and a great story including zombies, necromancy, ghosts and Egyptian gods - definitely not your average paranormal storyline. And as for that ending, well I can't wait to get my hands on book three, Unbroken and see exactly how all this is going to be resolved.

The Book of Secrets
The Book of Secrets
by Elizabeth Arnold
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't beat books about books..., 13 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Book of Secrets (Paperback)
I'll be honest and say that this isn't my usual sort of read but the synopsis drew me in completely! Mention anything about books in a book and I'll read it, nine times out of ten I'll love it too. This was one of those occasions, I fell completely in love with Arnold's characters and her writing and found the book hard to put down. In fact, the only reason I did put it down was because I had to be up at stupid o' clock to catch a train! Aside from the fact that Book of Secrets is at times heart-breakingly sad, you will want to read this if you're any sort of book lover. From the way that Arnold uses books to bring together Chloe and the Sinclair family to the part names which are either book titles or lines from some of our best loved books. Sweeping from Narnia to the 'belly of the whale' to the star-crossed lovers down the road not taken to the tell-tale heart everything about this book was a pleasure to read, even if at times I was wiping away the odd tear or two.

Chloe meets Nate, Cecelia and Grace Sinclair on the the day of her eighth birthday and from that day on their lives are twined together in ways they couldn't imagine on that first meeting. With a seriously ill mother and a somewhat tyrannical father who does not like Chloe or want her associating with his children none of their upbringings are exactly normal. The story veers between past and present, skillfully done as sometimes books that do this can seem disjointed but the writing here flowed effortlessly between then and now. We learn that Chloe and Nate marry and are running their own bookstore, Grace has become a nun and Cecelia is still in their childhood home looking after their ailing father, recently released from prison for a crime that's not made clear to start with. Chloe comes home to a note from Nate saying he's returned to said home as something bad has happened and that he'll be in touch. Unable to comprehend why he'd want to return somewhere that held so many bad memories Chloe is left floundering until she discovers a series of notes written in code, decipherable by using different books including The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the book that brought them together decades before.

Part love story, part mystery, Book of Secrets will have you hooked from the start. A story of family, love, grief and betrayal by those you thought loved you make this one of the best books I've read this year. Arnold's talent for pulling all these different strings together have you hurtling towards an ending which will leave you completely gobsmacked if you're like me and couldn't guess what the final sting in the tail was going to be. If you love books and good writing make sure to read this - and soon!

My favorite quote - because I love to sniff books too. Surely I'm not alone?

"I ran my fingers over the text then held the book up to my face, closed my eyes and inhaled the sweet-sour scent of old paper and binding glue. Did everyone who loved books do this when they encountered a new one? I loved the physicality of books just as much as the stories inside, the feel of pages between my fingers, the intricacies of classic fonts winding along the neatly lined rows of words."

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