Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Witch's List by Andrew Cairns

29006270DESCRIPTION:
Sandy Beech doesn't believe in witches and the supernatural. However, certain strange events occur which put his scepticism to the test: a burning book, a falling crucifix, a mysterious illness, and a fire in a convent which kills all twelve nuns. On her death bead, Bernadette, the last surviving nun, warns him to control his lusts and avoid African women. Sandy finds this difficult, since he is attracted to exotic, dark-skinned women and after his hedonistic university exchange year in Paris, marries Rocky from the Ivory Coast. Five years later, childless and with the marriage souring, they decide to visit Rocky's home country. Sandy is drawn into a world of strange beliefs and practices: he finds out about the Witch's List - a list of people destined to die, and is attacked by various animals starting with a ferocious dog in Abidjan. He delves further and further into the realm of African witchcraft, but the horrific truth remains obscure... The Witch's List is the first of a trilogy.
REVIEW: 
I didn't need to finish the book to know I had become a fan of Andrew Cairns. It is one of those stories that crawl under your skin and would stay there for ages, lasting and cruel, because you'll always recall reading; their words will always be a whisper in the back of you mind, a whisper, a caress of the soul.
The story unfolds at a steady pace, with the threat of dark outcomes never far away. It is Hemingway reborn - with a tongue so sweet it almost kills you, it is pacy and the language hugs you like a cosy blanket on a rainy day.
What fascinated me the most was the way the novel started off as an average story and slowly uncovered its fantasy for me. Slowly crawling on the verge of sanity until you are completely sunk in its world of magic. Highly engaging it is a read that I will definitely advise people to read.4FOXGIVEN
It's the kind of book where you don't realise how much you've read until your eyes begin to hurt, filled with suspense, intrigue, and chills. An intriguing premise that doesn't fall short!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Anything But Love by Abigail Strom

28803482
DESCRIPTION:
Socialite Jessica Bullock can’t catch a break. After a lifetime of chasing perfection, hoping to please her parents, all her hard work is set to pay off. But on her wedding day, her fiancĂ© leaves her high and dry. Humiliated, she finds her calm, cool facade beginning to crumble…until an unexpected wedding guest, her childhood best friend and crush, offers to help her pick up the pieces.
Never in his wildest dreams would Ben Taggart have imagined he’d be escorting Jessica on her honeymoon to Bermuda. Although they haven’t seen each other in years, he can’t leave her to fall apart. Agreeing to keep things platonic, they vow to make the most of their spontaneous vacation—until an unplanned kiss sparks a powerful passion.
They tell themselves that what happens in Bermuda will stay in Bermuda. But when old secrets are revealed and new feelings ignite, will Ben and Jessica be able to leave their romance behind?
REVIEW:
Still experimenting with Romance a genre. I signed up for this one, because of all the good stuff I read about it. Also the author looked as a name I should be on the look for, so I was genuinely interested in the novel. And lived up to my expectations. It was a very good read that would make a really good romcom if you ask me.
A light romance and a journey of discovery made sweet loving and gave birth to this angel child that is a complete sweetheart. An adorable story written in a lovely way. It is definitely a book I would read for a break after some serious reading. it's a breath of fresh air, a vacation for the mind.  The story is predictable but it still managed to make me smile.
I did generally like this book and thought it to be an interesting read, the characters were developed and they had a realness to them which made you want to laugh, cry, and love right along with them. The one aspect I found a little off, was Jessica's willingness to go from the wounded soul straight into the new situation with Ben in the span of less than 2 days. There seemed to be a little something missing with that transition because of the cause, however this didn't make or break the book for me even though it was a little of an unrealistic jump for a character who had so many other realistic qualities and flaws. However, if you are looking for a lighthearted romance with lovable characters, this is a great read!
4FOXGIVEN

Now and Again by Charlotte Rogan

30002779
DESCRIPTION:
For Maggie Rayburn, wife, mother and secretary at a munitions plant, life is pleasant, predictable and secure. When she finds proof of a high-level cover-up on her boss's desk, she impulsively takes it, turning her world upside down. Propelled by a desire to do good - and a new-found taste for excitement - Maggie starts to see injustice everywhere. Soon, her bottom drawer is filled with 'evidence', her town has turned against her, and she must decide how far she will go for the truth.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, Captain Penn Sinclair's hasty orders have disastrous results. In an attempt at atonement, he reunites with three survivors to expose the truth about the war. Now and Again examines the interconnectedness of lives, the limits of knowledge and the consequences of doing the right thing.
REVIEW:
Thank you to Charlotte Rogan, Little, Brown Book Group and Netgalley for the copy in return for a fair and honest review.
I have been postponing the reading of this one for a while. I was doing the delayed gratification thing, because I had such a good feeling about it. And I was devastated when I found out I was wrong.
I initially found it very difficult to get into this book. The premise makes for a good story, however, it took a while to really gain my interest. I just didn’t relate enough to the characters to care that much. It also seemed a little disjointed for me, the characters (mainly Maggie) didn’t seem to really get their teeth into the issues they had come across and then the original focus of Maggie’s attention shifted to something totally different which disappointed me. The premise seemed very interesting, and I had high hopes, but the narrative style with multiple characters I found difficult to follow.
It is true I put a hold on the book as soon as I figured out that Charlotte Rogan had another book coming out. It's not like I was a major fan of The Lifeboat. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. But she was an author I wanted to watch for.
Basically, there's way too much information, and not enough plot. What little is there doesn't bring us closer to any of the characters, they remain obscure. Maggie is the only one of them who has any definition, but she makes so many decisions that I couldn't comprehend, that even she comes across as opaque.2FOXGIVEN

The Story Traveler by Max Candee

29953853
DESCRIPTION:
Stories aren’t real ... or are they?

Fifteen-year-old Haley Spade is enrolled in an exclusive boarding school in Connecticut. This school has a grim mythology: Everyone believes that the angry ghosts of six students who committed suicide decades ago still haunt its halls.

On a dare, Haley spends a night wandering through the “haunted” building. But she takes a wrong turn into a dizzying adventure of stories made real, stories within stories, worlds within worlds. She encounters magical creatures like the King of the Cats, a shapeshifting crow, elves—and a menace far more terrifying than any ghost. 

Suspenseful, fast and rooted in several fairy tales, The Story Traveler captures our yearning to be more than what we are. Haley’s bizarre journey will leave her and the reader wondering: What is reality?
REVIEW:
It is YA novel, and adventure story and brilliant concept executed far worse than it deserves. If Max Candee had dared to go for a full grown concept on the matter it would have blown my mind away. I was so excited about reading the novel. You have no idea! 
The whole idea of worlds being build out of stories on different levels and the demon destroying them, to get to the grand story and re-create the world! Are you kidding me: Brilliant doesn't begin to cover it!
And then the messiness is granted permission to enter the room and spoil all the fun!17978803
Let's start with the characters. The main character Haley... She started off being alright.But as the story went along, her personality came off. She became inconsistent. She's nice, but then she's not. She's brave but then she's not. Like, hello?? I need finality here! She didn't have the magic in her. By the end of the novel I was struggling to keep up with her bullshit. I won't even comment on the dialogue... it was worse than OITNB. I know, most people would kill me for saying this, but it is true. I am an old-fashioned gall and I need my awesome, meaningful, twisted, funny and engaging dialogues. Especially in a YA novel, because they teach young adults so much. Hell, if it wasn't for good dialogues and wittiness I wouldn't be the crazy and slightly overly sarcastic person I am right now.
Jack, Tom, Dorian they were all so terribly out of character that it was painful to read through. I kept hoping it will go better, but it didn't. I constant flat line!
And the romance... Jesus Christ, I know teenage girls are obsessed with it, I was a teen after all, but having such a wonderful idea to explore why did you even had to go for a love story?! Why?!! A sloppy one to that. It wasn't in place and it was as fake as a dollar bill napkin! Cheap,useless and see-through.
Well the word building was good.  "That I can tell you. But the pacing was so off - like, at first everything was in such a fast pace. It was as if a whirlwind came across the pages and all of a sudden, I'm reading about how Haley has taken the dare. Um...WHAT? Last time I checked, she was still moving in. How the hell has she knew about her classmates and the other girls already? " (Joyce (The Book Harpy))
In short: Max Candee, what the hell did you do? Why did you do it? What were you thinking? Especially with the ending... I get that you wanted to probably go for series, but you could have done it so much better, dude! 
I will not recommend it to anyone. It wore off my patience so bad, that I needed to punch sth.
Not even one Fox for it, doesn't deserve my Fox stamp, sorry!

The Chrysalis by Catherine Deveney

30322313
DESCRIPTION:
Everything can be changed. Except the past.

Marianne might be losing her memory, but she remembers the night, almost five decades ago, when Patrice Moreau was knifed to death.

She knows who murdered him, too, in the hidden room in the flat above the bar. And unbeknownst to her carers at the nursing home, the frail, sharp-tongued old lady once traded the truth for love.

Only one person gets on with the irascible Marianne. And that’s Zac, a troubled young carer with a secret of his own. However closely he guards the truth, though, Marianne’s guesses come dangerously near. After all, she knew a man like Zac before. She helped him disappear.

She helped him become a woman.

Haunted by the events that fatal night in an idyllic French town, the dying Marianne makes a last trip there. She takes Zac with her, convinced that the hidden world of Bar Patrice can set him free, too. Before that can happen, though, everyone must confront one last, painful truth.
REVIEW:
I am always happy when a book corrupts you for every other book that will follow. After reading Chrysalis, I will never be the same reader again.
There are good books, and there are amazing books, and then there are books that twist your soul in a tease of literary pleasure and change your very core. Chrysalis is one of the third kind. 
It grabbed me from the very first sentence and I dare say it still hasn't relieved its grip on me. Chrysalis is not just an average thriller, it works on levels ranging from psychology and soul searching, to the perfect crime escape theories. 
The style is exceptional, the story line brilliant and post-reading effect- devastating in the best possible way. I didn't expect much, and I was blown away. The character building is so detailed that you almost feel this actually happened with real people... and you know... there are people who undergo the same character growth and it is not easy on them. 
To some it up, this novel is probably going to be the book of the year for me. It is everything you can wish for with a cherry on top. The easiest five fox ever! I will definitely recommend it to all the people out there who love The Danish Girl!!!!
5FOXGIVEN

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sing by Vivi Greene

27246877DESCRIPTION:
America’s most famous pop star flees the spotlight to recover from her latest break-up in Maine—only to fall for a local boy and be faced with an impossible choice at the end of the summer: her new guy, or her music.

Multiplatinum pop icon Lily Ross’s biggest hits and biggest heartbreaks (because they are one and the same):


1. AGONY. (That feeling when her ex ripped her heart out of her chest and she never saw it coming.)
2. GHOSTS. (Because even famous people are ghosted by guys sometimes. And it sucks just as much.)
3. ONCE BITTEN. (As in: twice shy. Also, she’s never dating an actor or a musician ever again.)


But this summer’s going to be different. After getting her heart shattered, Lily is taking herself out of the spotlight and heading to a small island in middle-of-nowhere Maine with her closest friends. She has three months until her fall tour starts-three months to focus on herself, her music, her new album. Anything but guys.


That is . . . until Lily meets sweet, down-to-earth local Noel Bradley, who is so different from anyone she’s ever dated. Suddenly, Lily’s “summer of me” takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself falling deeper and harder than ever before. But Noel isn’t interested in the limelight. She loves Noel-but she loves her fans, too. And come August, she may be forced to choose.
REVIEW:
You should know by now that I am not much of a Romance novel type of chick. Yet, I am trying not to restrain myself to specific genres and treat the rest with disdain. Therefore, I force myself into reading Romance novels once in a while, just to check if my femininity is somewhere to be found... Alas it is still missing, but that doesn't mean I will not give the book credit and objective evaluation. 
So, Sing by Vivi Greene: was exactly what I expected, in a good way, I think... What I mean by that is it was a generic love story, with generic characters and generic plot. So far so good. If Romance is your thing: I am sure you're going to love it. It was an easy-breezy beach read, that brings freshness and frivolity to your everyday life. Jesus, this sounded like an always commercial. I am so sorry guys, I don't mean anything bad by it, but it is really just an enjoyable easy read that doesn't dare the reader with anything. It was designed to bring joy and it executes its purposes BRILLIANTLY.
It's a fluffy book about a Taylor Swift-esque pop star, who becomes introspective after experiencing many of the same relationship problems that Taylor Swift has experienced in real life. 4FOXGIVEN
Though the book ends exactly how you think it will end,  it's a worthwhile journey that helps us not only understand the mind of someone who is constantly scrutinized, but also just the mind of a young teenaged girl as well. 

The Jolly Coroner: A Picaresque Novel by Quentin Canterel

27181008
DESCRIPTION:
"The story is part David Lynch, part comedy of errors, and readers will never quite know what will happen next. The scenes are loaded with surprises...A highly creative, if meandering, adventure." - Kirkus Reviews

"Reads like The Jolly Coroner are so hard to find, and I hope to read more from this author." - Underratedreads.com

"It's seldom that you find a book to be hysterical and morbid at the same time. I enjoyed the originality of The Jolly Coroner and will be recommending to many readers." - Bodacious Books and Baubles

Evil wakes while the people sleep.

Amongst the strip malls, concrete blocks and empty parking lots of the Southern town of Hokum, the American dream lies broken. A helpless immigrant the state has declared dead finds himself unable to prove otherwise. Abused Mexican kids abduct their schoolteacher escaping back across the border. A haunted hillbilly dangles from a flagpole refusing to believe his wife and children aren't ghosts. The Warden, a camo-wearing military obsessive pedals drugs whilst blaring Stockhausen. A down on her luck junkie fails to drown herself and resurfaces to find love. All these characters have one thing in common: they will all find a way to wind themselves in to the coroner, Billy's life.

Billy's love of celebrity and aversion to hard work leaves a growing trail of wronged members of the public - a trail that he just can't seem to shake. Although he can't understand why, the townsfolk begin increasingly to mistake him for the devil. Amidst all the fun, THE JOLLY CORONER poses questions about moral decay and proves that a casual string of circumstances, in the right conditions, can lead to the rise of a dangerous man... only it's so accidental no one seems to notice.
REVIEW:
I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
To be honest I requested the book because of the cover and the title, didn't even bothered with reading the description. I was in a weirdo mode and I thought "yay, skulls! yay, jolly coroner! yay, I'll order it!"... And so I did! What came after was a complete surprise for me. A good one to that. It was an extremely quick and enjoyable read, that actually made me giggle a couple of times. I love the weird and slightly macabre genre and this novel was definitely it!A grumpy coroner - how genius is that! I loved the character from the very beginning!
It is a truly introspective body of work where the author takes you deep into visceral thoughts of the characters that make this book the beautiful novel that Quentin Canterel placed in our lives. In reading this book, you quickly realise that the art of writing is not dead.And Thank GOD for that. It has been a while since I enjoyed someone's writing so much. Maybe since Denise Mina I haven't been so excited to come back from work to get a quick shower and get my nose dug in the pages! The novel is funny and gripping with good pace but readers should not mistake this for an easy, "beach-type" drama, as behind Billy's adventures the novel works on many different and more in-depth levels that will keep the reader intellectually entertained. 
Easiest five fox I have ever given!5FOXGIVEN

The Cauliflower: A Novel by Nicola Barker

26792270
DESCRIPTION:
From Man Booker-shortlisted, IMPAC Award-winning author Nicola Barker comes an exuberant, multi-voiced new novel mapping the extraordinary life and legacy of a 19th-century Hindu saint

He is only four years older, but still I call him Uncle, and when I am with Uncle I have complete faith in him. I would die for Uncle. I have an indescribable attraction towards Uncle. . . . It was ever thus.

To the world, he is Sri Ramakrishna--godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru (who would prefer not to be called a guru), irresistible charmer. To Rani Rashmoni, she of low caste and large inheritance, he is the brahmin fated to defy tradition and preside over the temple she dares to build, six miles north of Calcutta, along the banks of the Hooghly for Ma Kali, goddess of destruction. But to Hriday, his nephew and longtime caretaker, he is just Uncle--maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to entering ecstatic trances at the most inconvenient of times, known to sneak out to the forest at midnight to perform dangerous acts of self-effacement, who must be vigilantly safeguarded not only against jealous enemies and devotees with ulterior motives, but also against that most treasured yet insidious of sulfur-rich vegetables: the cauliflower.

Rather than puzzling the shards of history and legend together, Barker shatters the mirror again and rearranges the pieces. The result is a biographical novel viewed through a kaleidoscope. Dazzlingly inventive and brilliantly comic, irreverent and mischievous, The Cauliflower delivers us into the divine playfulness of a 21st-century literary master.
REVIEW:
I had some prejudice, I admit! Technically, The Cauliflower is the biographical account of the life of Sri Ramakrishna. I have prepared myself for the most boring read of my entire life... But this is so much more than that! The book is divided into short sections, varying from a few words to a few pages, with no apparent chronological or discernible order to them. Which I believe is what led me to the conclusion that it is well researched but reads inauthentically. The Cauliflower manages to combine so many different cultural aspects that ends up as being at the same time brilliant and a bit MEH(the element of indifference). You may find the author irreverent, flippant, jarring and annoyingly non linear but then consider the man she is attempting to bring to life on the pages of a book. She had no other choice! 
This book probably won't fit the image of anything you expect it to be. It is speculative and experimental fiction. I'm not a stranger to the more speculative, new and experimental fiction. In fact I enjoy out of the box reads, you just never know what you're going to get. A box of chocolates scenario. It's virtuosic writing, with wild, unsignposted cuts between times and places, with different narrative voices and with varying styles including the odd remark addressed directly to the reader. But it is not for everyone. 4FOXGIVEN

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

25194121
DESCRIPTION:
In the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Piano Teacher, a heart-wrenching debut novel of family, forgiveness, and the exquisite pain of love

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?
REVIEW:
My thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton.
What can I say about the novel... I loved it, and then again there was something that didn't quite click. I've shared with you, that lately I have developed I love for historical drama... so A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding was quite up my alley if you know what I mean, but there was something wrong with it. I struggled to pin it down, but a couple of weeks after finishing the book I understood what it was.My biggest complaint was the author's decision to make our narrator, Amaterasu, omniscient, all-knowing and able to describe exactly how other people felt, exactly what they saw and what they were thinking, simply through reading a few letters and diary entries. If Copleton wanted to write about all the characters' thoughts, then she simply shouldn't have written this in first person, in my opinion. It makes Amaterasu's account seem disingenuous or dishonest, and I think this is the main reason I failed to connect with her family's story as much as I'd hoped.
If we go past that I loved the style this book was written in and the way the story gradually came together. In places this was rather an emotional read, but overall a compelling story that felt very real. Although in places it was a bit too melodramatic for my taste, but then again... once in a while such guilty pleasures are to endured. You know what, I will not attempt to spoil it for you guys... it is a very gentle, lovely story. It will definitely touch your heart it a unique way, and I am sure that there will be people who'd love it and those who'd pick at the details, but if you happen to read it at the right set of mind I am sure it'll be a time well used. Once in a while we need a read for the soul.3FOXGIVEN