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Clare

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The Loney: Costa Winner 2015
The Loney: Costa Winner 2015
Price: £4.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Baffling, 4 May 2016
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I simply have no idea why this book has been so lauded. It is well-written in terms of language and atmosphere, but where is the actual story? I gave up just under half way in, so maybe there are revelations towards the end, but I just wasn't interested. I could not waste any more reading time ploughing through repetitive descriptions of bleak landscapes and the banal wittering of a bunch of religious fanatics to find out some subtle twist at the end. The ones who are giving this glowing reviews must have another book? No idea. What a disappointment.


Nelson Telson: The Story of a True Blue Blood
Nelson Telson: The Story of a True Blue Blood
by Heidi Mayo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable, 2 July 2014
A story for open hearts and minds of all ages, Nelson Telson delivers on so many levels. It's an enchanting fantasy story, yet at the same time contains a host of identifiable characters and situations that resonate with bone-grazing familiarity. It takes us on a heart-warming journey through a young girl's transition from childhood to young womanhood, from uncertainty to understanding. The story is embellished with stunning illustrations and fascinating insights into history, ecology and science. It is a lush, beautiful book, rich in its landscape and narrative, yet with highly surprising transitions and a plot that carries you along. I loved Mariah and her loquacious horseshoe crab; however, what surprised and delighted me most was how the author helped me to understand and love the more difficult characters, without losing the tension of the story. Heidi Mayo holds all elements together as if she's playing a fine instrument, with each string perfectly tuned to play its part. In the end, it helped me to listen to the True Blue voice singing inside me. Thank you for this beautiful tale, Ms Mayo.


Days of Blood and Starlight: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy Book 2
Days of Blood and Starlight: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy Book 2
Price: £4.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars From the Sublime to the Depressing, 16 Jan. 2014
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The first in this series was the best book I read last year. I loved it for the magical whimsy, the exquisite narrative, for being taken to Prague and living through the writer's eye in that beautiful city, most of all for the cleverness of the magical dovetailed stories that eventually weave together to reveal a tapestry of wonder and romance.

And then I read part two and discover I am mainly going to be taken through a war, and the beautiful description is now going to predominantly be about pain, degradation, self-torture, separation and death. The beautiful setting has been changed to a dusty barren landscape, and an empty castle barracks with a death pit at the centre. And it's relentless: page after page. Despite being well-written, there is no romance or whimsy or beauty. It becomes a violent fantasy novel beset with descriptions of murder and on one occasion rape - what the hell is rape doing in a young adult fantasy novel?For that matter what is masochism doing in it? The whole "pain tithe" thing was never really explained - why this is the necessary payment from magic? It just seemed to be there for the sake of it.

I can see that the author wanted to idea to "grow up", and maybe thought that she needed to make the excellent story to tread more serious ground, and become more weighty, but to me it was like reading a lead balloon after taking flight through the first novel. And it's just far far too long; it goes over the same ground of war and retribution and Karou's hatred for Thiago over and over again. Then there is this detour to the fates of some escaped chimaera that seems to trail off to no-where, and is just more depressing stuff about a sick, injured creature. I love horror fiction and read all kinds of fiction, but I am simply not coming to this book for this. I did get through it, but I kept putting it down not because I couldn't handle the violence and war, but because it was simply not what I wanted from it. I give it two stars for the quality of the writing and the good ending, but overall I was hugely disappointed.


G'Day L.A.
G'Day L.A.
Price: £2.07

4.0 out of 5 stars A Summer Breeze Tainted with Murder and Intrigue, 18 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: G'Day L.A. (Kindle Edition)
A wry and insightful caper around the machinations of Hollywood and the people who get chewed up in them, this non-stop action page-turner focuses on the early career of a young actress who has jetted in from Australia to try for fame and fortune, only to get wound into a corrupt murder conspiracy. Tony Mcfadden does a brave thing by taking on first person narrative in the voice of a young woman, and does a remarkably good job of it. I think it works so well because he just talks on the page, without making much reference to the gender of the person. However, he does take on the issues she faces, in terms of the misogyny and discrimination she gets from being a young, attractive woman in a place that treats female actresses like so much flesh. He clearly has a lot of fun taking on the Old Boy's Club of the film industry by throwing this loose cannon of a gutsy, headstrong Aussie girl at it. She is a resilient, uncompromising and likeable heroine, and you get right behind her very early on.

Tony is known for being immaculate in terms of structure, writing to very definitive plot patterns, and this novel really showcases that. He even has a plot within a plot, in the form of a wacky film proposal being pitched by the villain to a group of Hollywood big-wigs, described in blow-by-blow terms of the typical Hollywood story formula. Furthermore, the novel itself reads like a movie script for the most part, largely divided up between convincing first person narrative and extremely well executed dialogue. It makes me wonder, given the setting of this novel, if this is where the writer has come from, or if it is where he is going to. Either way, as a novel, this is a rip-roaring read that never lets up. It's one to kick back with a cool drink in the summer and let it carry you away. Enjoy!


Mayhem
Mayhem
by Sarah Pinborough
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Flesh on Old Bones, 17 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Mayhem (Hardcover)
In this intriguing novel, Sarah Pinborough takes us into the seedy and mysterious underworld of Victorian London. Drawing on factual accounts of a series of murders that were overshadowed by the Ripper murders, we are taken from a surprisingly different angle into the back streets and the gin palaces and the opium dens. Real people of the time are given a new lease of life here, and often come to untimely deaths. Similarly, we are given a version of factual events that could only come from the imagination of an excellent storyteller. Switching back and forth between genres of crime, supernatural and historical fiction, we are taken on a dark journey as twisted, fearsome and surprising as any midnight walk in the back-streets of Victorian Whitechapel. A chilling, moody novel that lives up to its title.


Poison
Poison
by Sarah Pinborough
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Review for Poison, 14 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Poison (Hardcover)
Drawing from the template of the traditional fairy-tale, Sarah Pinborough cuts a quirky and risqué take on Snow White, adding depth and scope to the original children's story to bring it to an adult readership. Nothing is quite what it seems in this version: the evil queen has a conscience and a past; Snow White isn't a sweet, hapless ingénue; and the prince, whilst charming indeed, has a most unpredictable part to play in the story. The only thing that is to be taken at face value is the cover and the page illustrations, which are a beautiful thing to behold. Whilst I am in a country that makes it more convenient for me to buy this via a Kindle, the book design is truly something quite special, and I would recommend anyone to buy it in hard-copy if they have the chance.

But just as the story goes, once you have delved beyond the glamour and perfection of the surface, all manners of grotesque and shocking things lurk beneath. S.P. takes quite a few risks here, eschewing a predictable retelling of the tale in a contemporary setting, and instead bravely taking us right back into the fairytale world, yet creating a very modern version within the walls of that castle and enchanted forest. She plays with the theme of female beauty and the prowess and privilege it bestows within the traditional tale, but tackles head-on the issues surrounding that theme, and the price that is paid for such a false value. The bitter is sweetened with humour and cleverness in her references to other fairy-tales that weave into the story effortlessly.

However, S.P.'s greatest triumph, as I see it, is how she has rescued the female characters from the realm of one-dimensional cut-outs and fleshed them into believable beings. Here we have women with a past and personalities and solid motivations - not to mention sexualities. Whilst I think the sex element isn't as prevalent a part of the story as many other reviewers seem to feel it is, the roles of the Queen and Snow White as "Vamp versus Virgin" are certainly challenged and changed here. With a nod to the folkloric origins of the story, S.P. cleverly uses elemental descriptions to portray the differences in how the two women relate to the world, and to their lovers. The queen's evil is no longer all rage and lust, any more than Snow's goodness is all sweetness and light. A more subtle and convincing story is told here, of one woman in touch with her heart and soul, and one who is not. The envy that binds this classic fairy-tale - as surely as the glamorous covers bind this brilliant version - stems from this difference, rather than the beauty both women equally possess.

A delicious poison, indeed. Take a bite.


A World of Pain
A World of Pain
Price: £2.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Revelation, 15 July 2012
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This review is from: A World of Pain (Kindle Edition)
J.B. Flory has a way of putting you behind the characters' eyes, yet you may not want to see the things they reveal. With a rare combination of rich yet economical writing, the story can sometimes feel relentless, but always holds your attention. It inhabits the twilight world of possibilities and hopelessness meant only for the brave. With echoes of Kafka and Palahnuik, and the cinematic flare of Lynch and Cronenberg, you are indeed dragged into a world of pain, but also a world of mystery, revelation and magic. It may be hard to look, but it is even harder to look away. If you risk the pain of seeking revelation, I assure you it will be worth it.


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