Friday, 29 June 2012

Book review - Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper

Library of the Dead (Will Piper, #1)Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It was recommended to me by a friend and I wasn't sure I would like it but read it anyway, mostly to humour her. Library of the Dead, started out slow, and confusing. There are a number of different timelines woven into the book, 777AD, 1947 and 2009, each with their own story. As I read, I wondered how they would all come together and I don't mind saying, I was a little confused as each time frame told a completely separate story. However, each story was interesting enough that I kept reading, hoping I would finally be able to understand how they all tied together. The more I read, the more I became engrossed. This was another one of those books I found I could not put down.
By the end of the story, I was amazed by how clever the author had been. Glenn Cooper has written a book so brilliantly, that even as I read, I had no idea how he would tie everything together, but he did, and did it so well, that when I put the book down, I immediately had to Google some of the points he had stated, just to check if there was any validity in it. That's how well I bought into the story. Either that, or I am just plain gullible.
I have only ever done that with one other book.

I will definitely be buying the follow up 'Book of Souls' and I do hope that he keeps me guessing and page turning, as much as he did with this one.
5 Stars for me

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Fifty Shades of What???

Warning: this review contains some spoilers – Do not read if you haven’t read or finished the Fifty Shades of Grey series

A few months back a friend from across the pond asked me if I had heard of this phenomenon that had hit the States called Fifty Shades of Grey.  I hadn’t but went and checked out the link that he gave me and have to say that I wasn’t entirely blown away by the description.  Or at least, the book didn’t scream ‘buy me buy me’ when I was reading the synopsis.  I didn’t think much of it after that until a few weeks later when a very good friend of mine texted me one afternoon.  I won’t say exactly what she said to me (much too explicit!) but basically ordered me to get Fifty Shades of Grey and read it immediately as it was amazing.  Having now had two people recommend the book to me, I decided to bite the bullet and downloaded the first of 3 books in the series called Fifty Shade of Grey.

So, who hasn’t heard of this book?  It's what everyone is talking about at the moment.  It’s everywhere.  On Facebook, Twitter and if you stop and listen, I am pretty sure you will hear someone talking about it on the bus or on the train.  Fifty Shades of Grey has taken the world by storm, pretty much like Twilight did in its prime. 

My experience with these books has been a little bit up and down really.  The first one hooked me and drew me in and had me gasping for more.  It really does suck you in and before you know it, you are addicted.  I am not sure if I was addicted to the book or if I was addicted to Christian Grey.  I even tweeted and facebooked a few times about wanting my very own Christian Grey.  It would be heaven to have a man as gorgeous as the author described him, or as rich as he apparently is with that dark brooding side to be obsessed with me like Christian is with Anastasia.  Oh yes, I will have some of that thank you very much. 
But what sets this series apart from anything else mainstream out there is the kink.  You want to read about sex?  Well, you need to be reading Fifty Shades.  You want to read about bdsm?  Have you bought the book yet?  There is oodles and oodles of it in the book.  I have read in a few places that the byline for Fifty Shades is ‘Mommy Porn’ and I would have to agree with that. 
What is surprising is that it has gone mainstream.  I personally think that is great and that is one incredible thing that Fifty Shades has done.  It has taken a topic – Erotica – and has got everyone talking.  It has turned shy, reserved and conservative women into raving sex goddesses.  Suddenly, its OK if you are telling your best friend (and in some cases, the world) that you plan on being hogtied by your lover this weekend.  I just heard a woman tell another woman that her friend told her she was going to be buying her very own bondage kit this weekend after reading Fifty Shades and aside from giggling, nobody sat there stunned by this revelation.  I cannot see that being the case a year ago?  For that, I think Fifty Shades has been awesome.  A lot of woman (Mommy's?) will also be living out secret fantasies when reading this, keeping them hooked and turning pages at the speed of lightening.

After I read the books, I recommended them to a few of my colleagues at work and the feedback has been the same from all of them.  Hooked.  Love it. When is the movie coming out?  And that is another thing that’s got everyone buzzing. Who is going to star in the movie? Who is going to play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele?  I admit that if I happen upon an article about casting for it, I stop and read it.  I have my own personal favourites who I hope will star in the role of Christian and its not Robert Pattinson!

Now for the downside.
EL James, the author, apparently finished reading Breaking Dawn from the Twilight series in January 2008 (I read this a few weeks ago and hope I have remembered this fact correctly) and decided she was going to write her own book.  It shows.  There has been some bad reviews regarding her credibility as a writer, just like there has been some for Stephanie Meyer, but who cares?  If you can write a book that is selling millions and has become a cult phenomenon, do you really need to write like Charles Dickens?  Indeed, everyone has stood up and is now paying attention.  But that's not the point I am trying to make.  It's the Twilight references I am referring to.  Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight rewritten. Just take out the vampires, the paranormal and add kinky sex and you have Fifty Shades.  While I don't think that's an unforgivable sin I do think the writer let herself down.  She had a brilliant idea, and has taken a somewhat taboo topic and made it mainstream which is incredible, but would it have been such a bad thing if she had chosen a new and original plot?  Instead, almost right throughout the book I pause as I realise that this or that character represents this or that character from Twilight.  Christian is obviously Edward as Anastasia is obviously Bella.  Other obvious parallels are Mia/Alice, Elliot/Emmet, Dr Grey/Carlisle etc etc.  And then there is the plot.  Brooding, gorgeous, unobtainable man meets clumsy, naive young girl.  Welcome to my world he says...only this time, instead of vampires and scary monsters, its bdsm and scary rooms full of sex toys.  

Don't get me wrong.  I didn't hate it. Not at all!  I still loved the story and in some ways, when I spotted the references I smiled, but she could have done so much better.  She could have done anything!

Also while I LOVED Fifty Shades of Grey, for me Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed didn't quite measure up.  I will admit that this is entirely a personal choice, but I loved the edgy, sexy side of book 1. While there is a constant supply of sex scenes through all the books (believe me, it never stops!) I missed the naughty, erotic scenes that was the focus of book 1 and became less and less so in the later books. Also, it felt that slowly the power started to shift from him to her and the story started to evolve into more of a love story than what it originally started out to be. In a small way, this was disappointing as I was initially totally enthralled by our hero Christian and it turned out he was just a regular guy after all.  Nothing wrong with that of course but the man that I read about in book 1 was really the man I was hoping to still be reading about in book 3 and it felt less and less like it the closer I got to the end. 
Perhaps EL James had intended to make him the flawed, soft hearted (yes, that he is!) man that he ended up being.  But I missed the tough guy with the firm voice and controlling manner.  Perhaps I am just a little kinky myself but judging by the reaction of all these women who are reading and raving about Fifty Shades, I don't think I am the only one.

Did I hate Fifty Shades?  Not at all. I loved it! I rated it 5 stars on 'Goodreads' and I am not changing my mind. It's a great story and its written in such a way that you cannot, nor will you want to put it down.  Do I understand the hype? Not really if I am honest.  But I do love that an 'Erotica' book has gone mainstream and perhaps that's what all the hype is about.  Everyone can finally talk freely and openly about kinky sex and not have people thinking you're a pervert.

Though I could be wrong about that? :)


Monday, 18 June 2012

A daily blog?

Should I be blogging everyday?  This is a question I have just been asking myself as I read the tweets that move down my timeline by other bloggers who seem to do so.  I don't know if they just have something to say all the time, or if they are just dedicated enough to do so.
When it comes to blogging, I am an emotional writer.  I write when I feel strongly enough about something that I need to put my feelings into words.  I have always been like that.  If something has upset me, left me emotionally charged or has got my brain thinking really hard I tend to turn to this blog and write it down.

That's why I think, I struggle so with getting my novel off the ground. I have started it - believe it I have - but it takes such motivation and dedication to go back to it daily - which I don't - and I wonder if I will ever actually get one done. 

There are days I think to myself that I should write something on here as I am aware I haven't blogged for a while, but if the need isn't there, or the topic isn't buzzing in my head, then I don't.

But should I?

Would it not teach me dedication?  Would I, in forcing myself to write something creative everyday, not teach myself tenacity and would I not develop the willpower (or even get into the habit) of writing a few thousand words a day and hence finally finishing my novel? I am not sure?

I do know that if I continue on at this pace, this novel will never get done so one way or another I need to pull my finger out. 

I have a few readers who diligently read each of my posts on my blog (for which I am so grateful) but would they get tired of reading something I felt I had to put up on the blog just for the sake of saying something on a daily basis?  Probably.  If it lacked imagination and creativity I am sure they would.

But is it something I need to train myself to do?  To milk my imagination? To force those creative juices into  flowing, rather than to just write when the moment is hot?

Hmmmm....something to ponder on I guess.

What are your thoughts?


Saturday, 9 June 2012

A review on An Unfamiliar Murder by Jane Isaac

An Unfamiliar MurderAn Unfamiliar Murder by Jane Isaac
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jane Isaac's book - 'An Unfamiliar Murder', is as fast paced as it is full of twists and turns. Unfortunately, I am one of those readers, that if a book doesn't grab my attention from the beginning I don't usually persevere with it for too long. 'An Unfamiliar Murder' however, did grab my attention and I found myself eagerly turning the pages so I could find out what would happen to Anna next?

Anna Cottrell is a young woman who inadvertently finds herself thrown into a web of murder and intrigue when she comes home one day to find a dead body in her flat. As more and more details of her life unfold, details that Anna herself did not know, you cannot help but wonder what she will find out next and where it all leads? Who is this person watching her and is it who I think it may be?
The other leading lady in this novel, DCI Helen Lavery is portrayed as a hard working, ambitious woman, with an enormous task on her hands - that of solving the murder. As the reader I attempted to solve the crime myself many times, only to find out I was wrong and to absolutely feel Helen's frustration.
All the characters of the book are really well written, the plot is brilliant and the story totally believable.

When I started reading 'An Unfamiliar Murder' I was reminded of another non-fiction British crime author by the name of Mark Billingham. Ms Isaac's writing and the pace of her novel is to me, comparable to Mr Billingham's novels as DCI Helen Lavery reminded me very much of the main character in most of his books and for all readers who enjoy the pace and style of Mr Billingham, will not be disappointed by this new 'up and coming'. I often recommend him to friends and I will certainly be doing the same for Ms Isaac.

I am pleased that the author is writing a sequel. I look forward to the next story and know that if it is anything like this one, it will be one of those books I bury my nose in the moment I get it and not put it down until I have turned the last page.

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A review on Slave by Sherri Hayes

Slave (Finding Anna #1)Slave by Sherri Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was 2am on Saturday morning when I finally put this book down. I had started reading it the day before and had become so engrossed in it, I refused to stop reading until I had read the last word.
'Slave', is unlike any other BDSM genre book I have read, and I have read quite a few. It is also, in my opinion, the best one I have read. Don't expect to be reading sex scene after sex scene with this book. In fact, there are none. Nor is it one of those that you will get your rocks off on, at least it wasn't for me, however, it does delve deep into the world of dominance not sugar coating any of it.

The book deals with the journey two people make who are both in the scene. One, willingly, the other, not so much. Stephen (a Dominant) is an affluent business man who 'buys' a slave girl (Brianna) in order to 'save' her. The journey is slow and hard for both of them. For him, as he gradually comes to terms with his deeper feelings for her and for her, as she slowly realises that she is indeed free. There were times I felt he made the wrong decisions/choices, yet as you read you might agree that you would have done the same and it only made him more human in my eyes. The characters are exceptionally well written and the book fast paced - I was not bored in a single paragraph. Although dealing in-depth with the sometimes controversial topic of BDSM, 'Slave' is heart wrenching and poignant and I find myself wanting to scream from the rooftops for everyone to read it, although I do understand it might not be to everyone's taste. I have read that some did not like the ending, but I feel that it was staged perfectly to lead into the sequel.

I have done a few reviews, some at the request of the authors, but with 'Slave' the moment I had finished reading it, I wanted to jump on Amazon and Goodreads and tell the world how 'WOW' it was but as it was in the silly hours of the morning and I was desperately tired, I opted for searching for the author on Twitter and told her instead. This review could wait till the morning.

Worth every penny I paid and the 5 star rating in my opinion and I will definitely be buying the sequel to this. I do hope Ms Hayes will be publishing it soon.

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Beautiful Blogger Award - woot! Go me!

Its always lovely when you find out that you have been nominated for a blogger award so I was thrilled yesterday to find out I had been nominated by the incredible Jane Isaac for the 'Beautiful Blogger Award'. Check out her amazing blog here: Caffeine's not a crime and while you are at it, find out why she is such an amazing author by downloading/buying her debut novel that is causing quite a stir. An Unfamiliar Murder.

Now, as part of the award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself and nominate 7 bloggers to share this award with. Here goes:

  1. I'm accident prone. If someone is going to fall down, it's probably me.
  2. I’m a Titanic fanatic
  3. I’ve got a very strange fascination with serial killers and devour everything there is to know about them.
  4. I am short and usually sit with my legs tucked in under me on the computer chair because my feet don't reach the floor.
  5. I'm age phobic (whoa!!! I bet nobody knew that!)
  6. Purple is my favourite colour.
  7. When I have my iPod headphones in, I sing out loud, know I cannot sing, but don't care.
I am only allowed to nominate 7 bloggers, which is actually very hard, because I could nominate many more.  However, here are my 7 chosen favourites:
  1. Curse of Ancient Shadows – by Rod Tyson. A YA author who is an amazing person with an interesting cat-with-no-name
  2. Daemonwulf - Home of the Lord of Wulves – by Daemonwulf.  I don't believe I have ever had a dull conversation with him!  The hairs at the back of your neck will stand up when you check out his blog.
  3. essential guide to being unpublished  – by Nan Bovington quirky and she so reminds me of me.  She, however, is a way better blogger
  4. fuonlyknew - by Laura Thomas. Averaging 2-3 blog posts per day (ok, that's a guess) I read almost every posting and am influenced by more of her book reviews than she probably knows.
  5. Its worth a try – by Veronica Stewart. Relatively new blogger who adds a new chapter of her (soon it will be a novel) story about fairy adventures.  I've known her practically my whole life.
  6. Morgue of Intrigue – by Cory Eadson. Winner of a recent flash fiction competition that had 88 entries and what can I say about Cory that I haven't already said on this blog and tweeted.  I miss him
  7. There's always cracks – by Alycia Bezuidenhout. Obviously, I am biased when it comes to this young lady. I hope she knows how incredibly proud I am of her.
As I said, I could have nominated a load more but sadly I have been limited to 7. Know that even if you don't see your blog here, I still think you are beautiful

Thank you again Jane :)

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Gremlin and the Fox - Guest blog by Trish Doucette

I have known the author of this piece for a number of years.  Though quite a few years younger than me, we developed a bond that I have not made with very many people.  I would find it hard to put Trish in a box and label her for she is so many wonderful, diverse and exciting things to me.  Her personality is infectious and to know her, is to love her.  After having spent a year in Canada she returned to Manchester and we met up for lunch in February this year.  The girl I saw there was but a mere shell of her former bubbly, happy self.  I had not seen someone so sad and depressed and down on life and my heart went out to her.  Nothing, not even the smile she tried to give me, convinced me that she needed anything less than professional medical help and I urged her to do that.  I also asked her to write her feelings down and 4 months later, we met again.  This time, it was a different girl that I met.  Back, was the Trish that I knew and loved. Back was the girl full of life and laughter. During lunch, she took out her journal and read a piece to me that she had written in the midst of her depression. I was incredibly moved by it and asked her if I could blog it.  I'm grateful to say she agreed.  The piece below is very sad, yet it is hopeful. I believe this was the turning point for her and her slow recovery began here. Read it and draw your own conclusions. The picture is her portrayal of Mortimer. I hope you can appreciate this as much as I did.  Thank you Trish xx

the gremlin and the fox

I have once again stayed up consumed with the dread of facing another day. I watched television trying to distract/numb the fear. I craved the further escape of a book and climbed into bed approaching midnight. Despite feeling exhausted I continued reading. One o’clock came, two o’clock came, three o’clock too. Still I couldn’t give in to sleep. For reasons I will never understand the dark masks failure. It feels less concrete, less solid. The rising sun and what seems like endless daylight exposes the loser I have become. But back to the book. Its title amusingly enough is ‘Before I go to Sleep’. The protagonist has amnesia and perpetually arises to another day not remembering the past 20 years. As the story unfolds you discover she was a victim of a brutal attack and I quickly become engrossed. I long to forget my memories, to have my brain wiped clean of links to my past, happy and sad. And by the time I turn the last page I feel horrendous. My skin is putrid, my lungs burn, my head is filled with furry static. I turn out the lights fearing tomorrow, hoping I can sleep the day away. And then for whatever reason a glimpse of hope, the first in 6 months. I think to myself I can volunteer with an organisation until I resume my studies. The gremlin creeps up, the bad idea wolf growls “what organisation would possibly want you, you can’t do it, you don’t care anymore. Animal-lovin Trish is long gone”. And then a glimpse of a fox I saw crossing the street last night. My curtains were ajar for the first time. I was quickly checking my emails when the distant figure caught my eye. And somehow, someway I almost smiled. The corner of my lips slightly curved upwards. It could so easily have been missed but I felt the warmth somewhere deep inside. This was the first time since descending into darkness that I allowed an animal to bring me any joy. So I lay there thinking of that shadowed figure and I said “FUCK YOU, YOU WOLFY GREMLIN”. I am going to try. I want to try. Trying doesn’t seem so scary. But first I need to sleep. Shit, more wolfy gremlin. Let’s call him Mortimer. So Mortimer says “you are going to feel like fucking death warmed up tomorrow. Your skin is going to repulse you; you will want a smoke more than Pooh wants honey. You’ll be fat and fatigued, sickly and sore”. And I replied “YUP. BUT dearest Mortimer, you’re forgetting something. Trish is running this show. You are right, I will feel like death warmed up, my skin will repulse me and I will want me some honey. I’ll be pudgy and pathetic, ill and irritable but damn it I’ll have this. This mere moment way too late near the end of March when broken down and completely destitute I felt like me”. Clarity is mine and if I have to scramble deliriously to record this moment then that is exactly what I’ll do. So I am going to explore my options, contact my professor and allow myself some hope. Not only will I throw myself this bone but I will not stamp an expiration date on it. I have until September. Three months of experience would be stupendous. Living the rest of my life with joy, strength and humility means more. If I manage to sleep now I am going to miss a lot of tomorrow. But I hope that when I wake I will have the strength to walk with my Mom after eating a very late breakfast, finish that bastard sky in the missing one motherfucking piece puzzle, take Capone for an early evening stroll with my amazing fiancĂ© and finish it all off with a new movie. Will I struggle with my appearance, absolutely! But I have caught a glimpse of Trish and though it seems an eternity I looked straight at that exhausted reflection and declared I WILL GET THROUGH THIS!!!!!!!!! Now I realise this first fleeting moment of catharsis will not cure my ailments but it’s a fucking start. Mortimer has held an iron grip for many months, for many years and today I think maybe just maybe I’m tough enough to beat this son of a bitch. It’s time to start walking down another street. OR possibly even drive but we’ll save that for another time.

Tata for now, signing off a tired but hopeful lady