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Reviews Written by
Gemma Louise Thompson

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by Hannah Rothschild
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3.0 out of 5 stars The Improbabiity of this making the shortlist for The Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction!, 21 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Annie McDee is trying to get over her ex-husband, she met someone nice at an art gallery and against her better judgement she is cooking him dinner so he doesn’t have to spend his birthday alone. Whilst looking for a present for him she see’s an old painting in a dingy antique shop – she’s buys it on a whim not realising it is a missing masterpiece.

Before she knows what’s happening she is being swirled into the greedy, deceptive world of high art. But will Art seduce her or imprison her?

Newspaper reviews have called this ‘clever, funny, beguiling’ ‘a masterpiece’ and ‘totally delicious’. It’s also been shortlisted for The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. With all that you’d expect this book to be a cracker wouldn’t you? I did, hence me parting with my hard earned cash to get me a copy (okay so I used a book token in Waterstones and technically I only paid £6 for 4 books but that’s just nitpicking!)

So is it the worth my £1.50 and all those accolades? Honestly? No.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, definitely worth £1.50 … But all those accolades? Shortlisted for the Bailey’s prize? Absolutely not. But what’s worse is that it could have been far better. It just needs a really good edit. For a start the prologue needs to be cut – that was so bad I almost didn’t bother reading on, if you get this book then do yourself a favour and skip those 19 pages. It could also do with losing around another hundred pages. This story is told by far too many perspectives, although Hannah Rothschild is a talented character writer. Personally I would cull the ‘voice’ of the painting for a start. It adds no information of value and is quite frankly annoying.

There are some very appealing characters in here though, and the story is entertaining even if it’s a little farcical. There’s a little bit of everything in it, love, pathos, greed, poverty, riches beyond your wildest imaginings and the power of art. It’s been compared to Wodehouse which is maybe a little over-generous but it is amusing.

Overall I’d have to award it 3 Bites, it’s good, just not brilliant.

NB This review appeared first on the BookEaters Blog - (...)

The Fairy Wren
The Fairy Wren
Price: £4.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Grown-up and Magical!, 15 May 2016
This review is from: The Fairy Wren (Kindle Edition)
Paul Fisher is having a bit of a pants time, his wife left him and has just taken an injunction out to stop him contacting her, his bookshop is struggling to stay afloat and now greedy developers are threatening to put him completely out of business by raising the rents.

Then a fairy wren drops his lost wedding ring at his feet, and Paul discovers that there’s more magic in the world than he thought or he’s going completley mad.

Things don’t seem to improve for him though, punching the mayor seals his bookshop’s fate and although he’s met someone new, his wife has reappeared and she seems to be in some kind of trouble. His friends try to help but some of their suggestions are decidely dodgy and the blue fairy wrens clues are more confusing than clarifying.

Books about people that own book shops are always going to entice me – it’s pretty basic, I want to read about my dream life! Throw in a hint of magic and I’m definitely there. But although on the surface this seems like a light dreamy read it is quite a lot more grown up than that!

There is an ambiguity about whether the wren is real or the product of a deluded mind. After all, it’s very convenient how it’s implying he needs to help his ex-wife, a woman he’s still clearly in love with and wants back. But then this protagonist isn’t self-absorbed, he has friends that have stuck by him and he’s doing what he can to help his fellow shop-keepers. Also there’s a new woman on the scene and she doesn’t seem like the type to hang around people that are obsessed with their ex and hallucinating. So maybe the wren is real? Maybe magic is real but doesn’t appear in ways we think it will.

I really enjoyed this book, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, it was much cleverer and warmer and more realistic than I thought it would be. Which made it all the more magical.

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews - [...]

Returning Eden
Returning Eden
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars If I could give this an extra half star I would!, 15 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Returning Eden (Kindle Edition)
The fact that this book is described as a “gothic ocean mystery” intrigued me straight away. Often we think of the sea as sparkling and sunshiny so this promised something that would embrace it’s depths rather than its shallows!

Eden and her family left the remote island of Cantillon, and her best friend Dylan, suddenly when she was just a child. But now she’s back and starting college much to the chagrin of her parents.

But just as she’s settling in and making new friends, she escapes an attacker, then a corpse dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, is found floating in the ocean.

Her new friends and Dylan help her investigate the mystery, scared that the killer will strike again. But as they do so they discover that Eden is at the centre of a dark and dangerous mystery – keeping her safe puts them all in peril!

I have to be honest, when I first started reading this I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and not because I was worried about the characters. It seemed to be aimed at a younger age group than I’d thought and the authors voice was a little clumsy. I stopped reading it and didn’t pick it up again until 2 weeks later.

When I did I wasn’t sure why I’d thought the writing was clumsy, and, rejoining the book after the chapters on Eden and Dylan’s childhood friendship, it was clearly aimed at those in their mid-teens upwards. I breathed a sigh of relief and settled in for a good read.

The author does a really good job of creating a perfect gothic atmosphere – misty, menacing and myopic. It’s balanced well by the teenage mood swings – optimism, melodrama and determination, and the story cracks on at a good pace.

If I was to be hypercritical I have to say the characters aren’t quite developed enough, but it seems this is the start of a series so that might be rectified in future novels.

I really liked the idea, it is different and I think a lot of those that read Young Adult books will appreciate that.

The Wolf in the Attic
The Wolf in the Attic
by Paul Kearney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for fans of Philip Pullman, 15 May 2016
This review is from: The Wolf in the Attic (Paperback)
Anna Francis is almost 12, when she was younger she had a mother and a brother as well as her father. They all lived together in the most beautiful city in the world. Now it is 1929, her mother and brother are dead. She and her father live in a tall old house in Oxford and she just has her doll for company.

She sees a fight that ends in a murder, then she stumbles across a community of gypsies. One of their number guides her home but before long she finds herself searching for the gypsy community again. Looking for a new home and protection from an ancient evil that seems to be following her.

If you enjoy Philip Pullman’s writing there’s a damn good chance you’ll enjoy this. I was a little unsure at the very beginning – Anna’s voice seemed a little young to me and althouth this is a young adult book I worried it might be pitched a little younger than I had thought. That wouldn’t have made it a bad book by any means, but it would have made it a little less enjoyable for me!

But Anna’s voice, and the author’s writing settles into a richer, more mature voice quite early and from then on I was hooked. The atmosphere of the setting is pervasive and the characters are magnetic. I would have read it in one sitting if I could, as it was I read it in two!

It’s not quite as masterfull as Philip Pullman, but well worth a read and I’ll be looking out for his next book! It would also translate well to screen – I can see it having a gorgeous steampunk styling!

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews -[...]

The Lubetkin Legacy
The Lubetkin Legacy
by Marina Lewycka
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Letter to London!, 7 May 2016
This review is from: The Lubetkin Legacy (Hardcover)
Marina Lewycka is best known for writing A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. This book, already shortlisted for the annual Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize (which the Short History won back in 2005) might beat it into the shadows!

It’s set in North London in modern day. Berthold Sidebottom (named for the architect Berthold Lubetkin who his mother hints might be his real father) invites an old Ukrainian lady to move into his mother’s flat with him, after his mother befriended her in the hospital as she lay dying.

This might sound like a mad thing to do but grief makes you mad – as does the chance you might lose your council flat!

His next door neighbour Violet is discovering that her new job in International Wealth Preservation is not as glamourous as it sounds, in fact she feels rather dirty helping ridiculously rich people profit from the poor and avoid paying taxes. When their flats are threatened by a new development Violet galvanises the residents into action, even the greiving Berthold.

This book is so clever and so so funny. It is multi-layered with a host of multi-faceted characters. It is a love letter to a London that is fast vanishing and a persausive missive to everyone to commit to community spirit. It’s a keleidoscope – with every twist and turn it shows a different pattern created by the colourful characters, and you’re never sure what pattern will be revealed next.

There are mysteries, drama’s, romances, crimes, humour, pathos and victories in this book. I fell in love with Victoria and with Berthold’s mum pretty much as soon as I met them, and my creeping sympathy for Berthold grew stronger with every struggle he faced.

Grab yourself this book now!

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. It appeared first on The BookEaters Blog - [...]

Pretty Is
Pretty Is
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A richly nuanced exploration of the dreams of adolescence, 14 April 2016
This review is from: Pretty Is (Kindle Edition)
imageWhen Lois and Carly-May are just twelve years old they’re abducted. They are driven across the country, and imprisoned in a remote, isolated hunting lodge. It soon becomes obvious that their kidnapper has chosen them both very specifically. But why?

Years later, both the girls have tried to move on and forget what happened, they have new lives and new identities. But the memories linger.

Lois, now a professor of literature, has written a work of fiction based on it and her publisher is hassling her for her second book. Meanwhile her first book is about to be made into a film with Carly-May one of its stars. She can’t wait to get to set she wants to see Carly-May for the first time since they were rescued. But she also wants to get away from the obsessive student who reminds her of her kidnapper and is threatening to expose her.

From the blurb I judged this to be a bit of a dime store thriller, I was wrong. This is actually a richly nuanced exploration of the dreams of adolescence, the craving to be important and the consequences or trauma. It’s also a pretty good mystery and the lines of suspense twisted and tangled nicely throughout it.

The characterisations were great, Lois had an odd little habit that was entirely believable and I found it dropping into my mind still weeks after I’d finished the book. I found it fascinating and read it very quickly, well worth picking up!

NB I received a free copy of this book from Orion (through NetGalley) in return for an honest review which appeared on The BookEaters blog first - [...]

The Ship
The Ship
by Antonia Honeywell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Get on board!, 30 Mar. 2016
This review is from: The Ship (Paperback)
imageYoung Lalla is lucky. Although Oxford Street burned for three weeks under the new regime and British Museum’s artefacts are vanishing and being replaced by desperate homeless survivors, she has been sheltered from the harsh reality by her parents.

But with the regime getting harsher and food becoming more scarce her father has decided it is time to leave. The ship is not just a whispered dream, it’s real. But it can only carry five hundred people so only the worthy will be saved. To her surprise her father is the ships owner and the architect of the entire escape plan. He’s done it all to save her so her place is assured. But before long she starts to question her place onboard, and the mission itself.

Antonia Honeywell has written a really interesting dystopian novel. Officially this falls into the Young Adult market but I think this is works just as well for the adult market.

It’s set in the quite near future and in a London that is recognisable and I think that adds to the credibility of plot. The main character is interesting and mostly likeable, but not perfect or omniscient, so it’s easy to stay on her side, even though you might sometimes want to shake her!

The purchase or the ship along with setting up stores for it and assembling the passengers isn’t focused on in the story, but that too is made believable by the telling of just a few details, the knowledge the reader is given of the surroundings chaos and by the character of Lalla’s father, if anyone can pull something like that off he is the man to do it!

This book doesn’t just tell a story though, it asks questions about how we live our lives, both in the world and personally. Questions that don’t have easy answers and the author doesn’t patronise us by providing her own.

NB This appeared first on The BookEaters Blog -[...]
I received a free copy of this book b through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews.

The Trees
The Trees
by Ali Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a natural phenomena!, 21 Mar. 2016
This review is from: The Trees (Hardcover)
Before I even start telling you about this book I have to say that I loved loved LOVED it! It is brilliant, stop wasting precious minutes here and go buy it now!

What? You need more persuading? Ok, so this is the story of Adrien Thomas. He’s been suffering from depression and a bit of a mid-life crisis and could easily be seen as a complete loser, his go-getting wife may well have got to the point where she’s going to go and get herself a different life. But despite this there is something very appealing about Adrian. His honest truculence and determined wishy-washiness is somehow sympathetic.

Then one night, when his misery is compounded by his wife Michelle being away but eased by the joy of a Chinese takeaway, the trees come.

A fully formed forest explodes out of the earth and bursts through floors and walls destroying everything in their path. The devastation leaves death scattered all around and survivors terrified and confused.

Adrien meets hippie Hannah and her teenage son Seb amongst the survivors, at first he spurns their offer of help and friendship business until he realises that no help is coming. They set out to find Hannah’s forester brother, then he plans to go on to Ireland to see if his wife is still alive and still wants him. If he doesn’t chicken out that is.

As I might have already mentioned, I loved this book. The premise was brilliant and very well executed, the characters were all utterly believable and well nuanced and the twists and turns were clever.

If there is ever an apocalypse, I almost want it to be like this!

NB This review appeared first on The BookEaters Blog - [...]

Rayne: Luminescence (Rayne Trilogy Book 1)
Rayne: Luminescence (Rayne Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £2.28

4.0 out of 5 stars If you loved Victoria Aveyard's 'The Red Queen' read this!, 20 Mar. 2016
Rayne is adopted, worse than that she is a disappointment to her parents and mocked by her peers. Living as she does in the dawn of The Rebirth Period, she should have gained a talent in the first hours of her second year. But she didn’t. She can’t talk to animals or strengthen the growth of plants or heal other humans like everyone else. She has only one friend, Rafe, who is three years her senior.
Then, in the early hours of her 17th birthday, she gains her talent. Something unheard of. Rafe and her parents both counsel her against telling anyone. Then the next day she gains another talent, something else that has never happened, and her world spirals out of control.

Quoleena Sbrocca is an excellent world builder. The reborn planet she describes is vivid and beautiful. The plot has some great twists and develops well and the characters feel authentic. I really liked the authors use of formality in the way they spoke but it did slow the flow a little and some might find it a little annoying.

I read this just after I read The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, a book with a huge amount of publicity that seems like it’s the next big thing in the YA market. This book is definitely it’s equal, sadly, as it’s by an independent author it might easily sink without a trace.

But you can help, order it (it’s only 99p on kindle) read it, and if you like it share it with other people.

NB This review appeared first on The BookEaters Blog -[...]

Down Station
Down Station
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Go down - you won't regret it!, 2 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Down Station (Kindle Edition)
Mary is trying to stay out of trouble, mainly to prove she can. So she makes sure she’s not late for her shift picking up rubbish from the tracks of London Underground.

Nearby, young wannabe engineer Dalip, is struggling to replace loose rails with Stanislav and his gang. He’s determined to learn every aspect of rail engineering.

When the tunnel shakes and a ball of fire rampages through the Underground, Stanislav’s gang runs, so does Mary together with her colleagues. They join forces but not all of them make it through the service tunnel. Reaching a door, the fire not far behind them, they step through…and find themselves not on a London street but on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland.

The way back is blocked. Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf’s cloak and with wolves by his side. He speaks English and has heard of a place called London – other people have arrived here down the ages – all escaping from certain and immediate death in London. None of them have ever managed to get back but apparently there is one survivor that holds the key to getting back and maybe to saving London. They set out to find this mysterious survivor completely unprepared for everything this new land has to throw at them.

Simon Morden is an acclompished Sci-Fi writer, he’s the author of the Metrozone series and is a bona fida rocket scientist (no really!). It’s small wonder then that this book engulfs you straight away and you feel it’s heat on your back long after you’ve finished it – much like that fireball in London he writes about!

He’s an excellent world-builder, his descriptions of London are just as good as those of the world he made up and that makes the new world very easy to buy into.

But I have to say what really did it for me were the characters. They are such a diverse bunch but completely naturally so, no matter they’re background they are all Londoners. As an ex-Londoner I appreciated seeing characters I know I would see everywhere in the city. Even those that left London in previous times were believable and creatures of their own context.

I enjoyed the whole book – and I’ll definitely read more from him – including another in this series if he’s planning one!

NB This review appeared first on The BookEaters Blog - [...]

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