#Bookreview for Utopia by Carla Eatherington @dystopicworlds #YA #NA

Utopia

In this dystopian novel, Utopia, Zia lives with her mother in an apartment block, in a compound, and like most young people she starts questioning why they live as they do. She begins work in the hospital and through the connections she makes there starts to discover the sinister reasons behind the existence of the compound, and everyone in it.

An icy billow of air barges its way past me as I pull the front door open. I shudder, reaching back inside to lift a heavy woollen coat off the hook. It’s my mother’s, and swinging it around my shoulders I’m swathed in a warm embrace which smells of her perfume. The scent is honeysuckle, like my mother’s namesake, but the wind soon carries it away.’

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, it has strong characters, a great setting and a believable plot. There’s a bit of romance brewing but no slushy soppy stuff (a huge bonus) because there simply isn’t time in the serious situation these characters are facing.

What I loved most of all though was the premise of the whole story because it has been informed by this author’s particular interest in animal and human behaviour. There is a short piece at the end to explain this further, and it is fascinating.

This is aimed at young adults but I am not one of those and yet still enjoyed it so I would recommend to all who are looking for a good story.

And if you are that person here are some handy links for you…

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#Bookreview for Rum Hijack by Phil Moss @Literastein

Rum Hijack

I originally read the first two parts of Rum Hijack when they were published as separate editions and I have been waiting for the third part to come out. The story is now published as one complete work, which is much more satisfactory.

I enjoy stories told in the first person, I like getting right inside a character, being privy to all their thoughts and emotions and those of the unnamed narrator of this tale are extraordinary. Our protagonist believes himself to be the all-conquering author of a masterpiece of literary magnificence. The only problem being that he hasn’t written one word of it…yet. He lives an eccentric lifestyle in his flat and tries to channel his Grandfathers spirit as if believing this will funnel some sort of divine inspiration that will overcome his writer’s block and allow his words to be unleashed upon the waiting world.

I thoroughly enjoyed Moss’s writing. Graphically descriptive it’s sharply quick witted and highly perceptive of this would be writer’s unusual lifestyle. An emergency potato – why haven’t I ever thought of having one of those? I loved the dark humour throughout this tightly written story and there were many, many priceless moments which made up a fabulous read.

By the end of part one our narrator has named himself Inkker Hauser. His relationships are disastrous and you would never want to have him as your neighbour but I liked him very much.

In part two you need to buckle up to take on the ride that is Inkker when he goes on a date with the lovely Tylissa.

He drinks a staggering amount and wanting to impress her with his intellectual and literary genius spouts all sorts of what to most people would be nonsense but which Inkker is earnestly serious about – this ‘A psychonaut. A sailor of the soul, a navigator of the mind. I happen to be something of one’ is how he describes himself to her. As the drink takes hold his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and you can only sympathise with poor Tylissa and admire her tenacity for hanging on in there particularly when he does something that is a definite no-no in my book!

Most of the second part of this darkly humorous novel is taken up with the date. That might seem like a lot of words just to describe a date but every one of them is needed in order to convey the sheer craziness as it descends into mayhem for Inkker. There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t like this narrator and yet I really do. In some bizarre way, considering how he behaves, he comes across as fragile and endearing and I feel protective of him especially when he is aware of being mocked by others.

Because it’s written in the first person we are exposed to his thoughts, feelings and anxieties and these show his vulnerability and increasing desperation as the night unravels. But nothing that has gone before compares to the pain you can feel Inkker going through when he gets home and meets his new neighbour.
I was delighted to eventually get to read the finale to Rum Hijack and it is every bit as good as the first two parts.

The new neighbours, Claire, who calls him Inky, and Adrian, a writer of novels, invite Inkker to a flat warming party telling him to ‘dress fancy’ a term he misunderstands but I loved the amount of planning that went into his appearance.

Inkker’s behaviour is becoming more and more wild. He’s banned from his local, The Laughing Goat, but when he goes to make the peace in an attempt to be allowed back in he can’t help but cause more trouble. His eccentric domestic habits become more and more surreal, I mean, the mannequin, what is going on there? Throughout this final part his violent thoughts and destructive actions escalate to levels that wreak havoc on his life and then there is a devastating setback for him, the desperate grief that follows all consuming.

Excellently written I would recommend this to everyone who fancies reading something highly original and totally entertaining – and don’t we all want to do that? I truly hope to read much more from this terrific writer in the future.

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#Bookreview for The Affair by Lee Child @LeeChildReacher #thriller

The Affair

I reached for The Affair recently during a sticky phase of writing. I needed something straightforward and familiar and I thought Reacher would fill that role perfectly. I’ve read one of these books before and enjoyed the military precision with which they are written.

The Affair is a prequel, set six months before the events in Killing Floor (the first in the series.) Major Jack Reacher of the US Military Police goes undercover in Mississippi, to investigate a murder. A woman has had her throat cut and just down the road is a big army base. Is the murderer a local guy, or is he a soldier? The sheriff is a woman and her investigation is going nowhere, although it isn’t clear whether her efforts are being blocked or if she is not that keen on finding out who the killer is.

I like Reacher, his CV is at the front of the book but I don’t understand why he doesn’t have a driving licence preferring instead to hitchhike his way to anywhere. Maybe this is covered in one of the stories I don’t know however it doesn’t stop him driving whenever he has a need to, like in this book. He also seems very capable in every other area of his life so it’s a mystery.

Anyway, this story is told from Reacher’s point of view and I really like how methodical he is, the no nonsense way he goes about his investigation, the frequent brutality and the little touches of humour throughout. He appears emotionless, and even though this book is called The Affair that doesn’t seem to change this state. He also engenders deep respect and loyalty among those he has worked with before and is not so isolated in his work that he doesn’t use these connections when appropriate.

It took me a couple of chapters to get into the story and there are a one or two moments when my belief was definitely tested but Reacher does what he does and you just go with it. There are so many books in this series I’m not even sure what number they are now up to but for those who love tough independently minded and slightly maverick heroes in their thrillers this is a great series to get into.

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#Bookreview for #familysaga Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow @barrow_judith

Living in the Shadows

I loved the first two parts of this series so was delighted when a friend bought me the final book in glorious paperback as a present. Living in the Shadows, like the rest of the series, is quality through and through.

This part is set in the late 1960’s and Mary and Peter Schormann are living a quiet life in Wales with their nearly grown up children, Richard and Victoria, who are at that late teenage stage where good and bad decisions are made over the choices that lie before them. Despite being twins, they are very different. Richard is studious and steady aiming for a career in medicine whereas Victoria is much less settled and causes a lot of distress by running away with the romantic idea of joining a hippie commune.

Mary’s niece, Linda Booth, is working in a hospital as a nurse but an altercation with the husband of one of her patients awakens the past and secrets dating back to the war come back to haunt the present.

This author doesn’t rely on the image of the swinging sixties as a happy hippie time of peace and free love but shows the darker side, the side not viewed through rose tinted glasses I suppose. Therefore, homophobia, domestic violence and the more sinister view of hippie communes all feature and help to paint a more realistic feel to that time.

However, there is something that happens in this story that is utterly heart breaking. You almost see it coming and you want to turn away, to make it stop, to hope it all turns out okay but there is nothing that you can do to prevent the inevitable and I have to admit to finding I had a little something in my eye at that point. So sad…

Anyway, this is a totally compelling and absorbing series to get into and if you love excellently written family sagas with terrific characters and real life stuff going on then you will love these.

I reviewed Changing Patterns here and Pattern of Shadows here.

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#Bookreview for #Victorian Murder #Mystery, Honour & Obey by Carol Hedges @caroljhedges

honour-obey

In Honour and Obey there’s a killer, loose on the streets of London. He’s nicknamed The Slasher by the popular press, is targeting young blond women and, as all decent murderers do, he’s leaving his calling card at the scenes of crime.

Strong women abound in this novel and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions particularly between the older and younger generations. My favourite was Hyacinth who has lived under the yoke of her bullying mother and hideous sister her entire lifetime and who’s future I feared for as she tried to break free. It is easy from the distance and cynicism we view her naivety not to want to shake her into awareness of the danger approaching and her development was terrific to watch.

I also loved the Mullygrub’s whose names, when revealed, belied the circumstances in which they lived.

I felt for Stride having to endure the endless and frustrating tussle with the press who taunted the police who were struggling to track the killer down and I enjoyed the tentative building of a romance for Cully. But then amongst all these delights we see the murderer, we know who he is and where, and how, he lives and it gives us a disturbing insight into his life.

Ms Hedges writes in a style that makes it appear as though you are on the very streets of the London she is so eloquently describing and it really brings you into the story when a scene unfolds and you feel you can almost reach out and touch the fabric of the dresses as they pass and unfortunately smell the fetid streets as you walk them.

This is a terrifically well written sequel, there’s humour and dry wit throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed, and recommend, the read.

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#Bookreview for #Memoir Behind Closed Doors by Madame Cane @MistressX101 #erotica #BDSM @GreenWizard62

behind-closed-doors

Here’s a tasty little something for the weekend…

There is a warning at the beginning of the description for Behind Closed Doors which reads: This book is for ADULTS, Eighteen PLUS and for broadminded people. Please move on if you do not fit in these categories.

Take that warning seriously, and don’t start moaning to anyone when you’re wincing at the content, Madame Cane won’t like that, not one little bit.

Madame Cane is a Lifestyle Mistress, as opposed to a Pro-Domme, and in this book she tells all about what she does and how she does it. This is a short book and a graphic one. You’ll learn about how she got into being a Dominatrix, her rules, her armoury and her canes as well as the difference between submissives and slaves, the state of ownership and much, much more besides.

It is an eye opener into a world I know next to nothing about but, always willing to broaden my education, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I can kind of see what Madame Cane gets out of this but I have absolutely no understanding of what her Subs or Slaves find so appealing about serving her, none at all, however I do find the whole subject a fascinating one. Other people’s lives are an endless source of interest, and some are more interesting than others.

Brilliantly written with great humour, a no holds barred honesty and a brutality that made me flinch at times this is a terrific read for those who are in the scene as well as those who are just a bit curious. I will add that although I’m sure Madame Cane is a lovely woman in her everyday life I know for a fact I would not want to meet her in her purpose built dungeon. But plenty do it seems, there’s a queue of them, it’s astonishing and you can read the tales of what happens to some of them right here.

 Once read never forgotten… go on, you know you want to! 😉

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#Bookreview for Writes of Passage from the students of Central College #Nottingham @PhilPid1 @GreenWizard62 #anthology #prose #poetry

writes-of-passage

The students of Central College Nottingham are a prolific lot and within a course of, I believe, ten weeks they have managed to write, prepare and publish this anthology, Writes of Passage. Quite an achievement by the students, and their tutors. There is some really good stuff in here as well.

The Rendezvous by Louise Bowman is set in Paris and I thoroughly enjoyed Monsieur Hubert’s journey to meet Madame Flora. I won’t give the game away by telling you who, or what, Madame Flora is, but this tale is based on a true story, so we’re told.

The Wolf and the Raven by Megan Archer is a fantasy in which Princess Nalina frees herself by turning into a wolf each night and escapes the castle accompanied by a raven. Searching for a life where she can be free one time she keeps on running and as always her friend is waiting for her.

Spitting Feathers by Sapphira Kingfisher is a vividly descriptive tale of a Siren, wounded and tired, and Simon, one of a group of soldiers who have been sent on a mission. The ending is terrific; you just know there’s going to be more to this short story.

In the Dark by Damian Goy is the creepiest tale I have read in a long time. Michelle wakes up and can see nothing, absolutely nothing. Initially I thought she had gone blind but then she calls out to her boyfriend and the whole thing just becomes more and more scary. Very good!

November by Deniz G is a harrowing tale of all consuming and destructive love that begins at first sight and ends… well, I won’t give that away, but it ends. And this author makes you feel the pain of the breakdown of this relationship with her words.

Adoption: A Short Story by a Short Adoptee by Agnes J Freeman is a story told from the point of view of the adoptee who I initially thought was one thing but then it became clear it was another. I can’t say much more without giving it all away but I did like the idea of the Musketeers.

On the Run by Ivory J Longley I believe from the introduction is a true story, or a story based on a true happening which makes it all the more interesting. Three lads have run away from a children’s home and travelled to Whitby. They’ve been gone for two days, found kindness in strangers and had one or two adventures along the way.

If You Go Into The Woods Today by S H Nicholson is a short tale but it tells of the growing fears as the narrator gets lost in the woods and then finds she is not alone. We’ve all been there, as it turns out.

Disguises by Ben Matosic is a short but atmospheric story which I liked a lot as initially I wasn’t sure what was going on but then, by that last line, it was crystal clear.

There then follows poetry. The City of the Gated Heart, Autumn Breeze, A Warrior Prepares for Battle and I can see the end by the prolific Jen Skuse. My favourite being Autumn Breeze. Caravan, Five Red Roses, Christmas ’72 and Lips by the equally prolific Ivory J Longley, and I loved the sentiment in Five Red Roses.

Lastly, there are excellent Haikus by Jen Skuse and the Haiku Queen herself, Holly Cassidy, one for each day of December! Very clever!

This was an entertaining read that shows the breadth of originality that can come from a small group of people.

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#Bookreview for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins @PaulaHWrites #thriller #GirlOnTheTrain

the-girl-on-the-train

As someone who loves watching other people I was really looking forward to reading The Girl on the Train. I thought the premise was terrific. Who hasn’t sat on a commuter train/any repetitive journey to work and imagined the lives of others as you pass by the same places day after day?

There’s this bit at the beginning which resonated, ‘I can’t help it, I catch sight of these discarded scraps, a dirty T-shirt or a lonesome shoe, and all I can think of is the other shoe, and the feet that fitted into them.’

I enjoyed the gradual unfolding of the story, of discovering Rachel, and realising her unreliability with each bottle that she opened.

Of course it turns out that Rachel has history with some of those she watches and as this is revealed we also get to see the story from the points of view of the other women involved, Anna and Megan. When Megan goes missing Rachel becomes more and more obsessed with her disappearance and overly involved with the other characters.

I generally don’t attempt to solve mysteries when reading I just like following the process until we eventually get to the big reveal but I did find myself thinking with this one that the cast was pretty small and therefore the suspects were a little thin on the ground so I was not that surprised when what happened, happened. However, it was fine, I was thoroughly entertained on the journey getting there anyway.

Highly recommended to all those who enjoy making up the lives of others.

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#Bookreview for Dark Fragments, a #psychological #crime #thriller by Rob Sinclair @RSinclairAuthor #RBRT

Rosie's Book Review team 1

dark-fragments

There are likeable and unlikeable characters in fiction and Ben Stephens is one of the latter, although it wasn’t always that way for me. At the beginning of Dark Fragments we meet a family man who dotes on his children and loves his wife.

Quite rightly Ben is still grieving the death of his first wife, Alice, the love of his life, who, now being dead, is lifted up to the level of sainthood which must be difficult for the second wife, Gemma, with whom he was having an affair while Alice was alive. And it is here that the first of the cracks starts to appear.

When Dani, Ben’s estranged twin sister who is a detective and was Alice’s best friend turns up out of the blue and starts asking questions the strain deepens. Ben works for Gemma’s father which is another source of pressure and he has also become involved with a local gangster in some dubious business venture and now owes him a lot of money.

The initial sympathy I had for Ben didn’t last long as he began to show his true colours. He makes some terrible decisions and it soon becomes apparent that he does whatever suits him, no matter what the cost to others.

Throughout the story there are chapters where Ben is talking to someone else and these conversations clearly show his lack of taking responsibility for his own actions, blaming everything and everyone around him for the situation he finds himself in.

This is a fast moving and suitably violent thriller which I highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from the author but this has not influenced my review one iota.

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#Bookreview for #Christmas #anthology – The Twelve Days #shortstories #poetry @GreenWizard62 @PhilPid1 @LJThorne @dystopicworlds @NoveletteMW

the-twelve-days

Christmas means different things to different people. This is shown to great effect in The Twelve Days, a terrific anthology of short stories and poetry from the students of Central College Nottingham’s Intermediate Creative Writing course.

Just Good Friends by N G Walters – right from the start of this story the descriptions are vivid, the food had my mouth watering, the violence had my stomach turning. It’s a tale of lovers, heartbreak, betrayal and revenge and has a terrific ending.

The Twelve Slays of Christmas by L J Thorne is another gut-wrenching tale. No cutesy cup-cake stories here! Set in Gotham City and featuring none other than The Joker this is the well-written start to what I can only imagine being a hugely blood thirsty longer work, and yes of course Batman is in there as well.

The Man in the Mirror by Liam Foster tells the tale of a young man whose life has turned around and who’s going to have his Christmas lunch with his girlfriend’s family, who he has never met before.

Christmas with the Family by Sadie Barr, sounds innocent enough, and it starts off that way too with an older lady arriving at her cottage in time for the Christmas break. However, there is much more too it, with flashbacks to events in her life and the revealing of her line of work. An interesting read indeed.

The Compensation Package by Phil Pidluznyj. I have read this incredibly frustrating story before as it has been published elsewhere but on rereading it was as heartbreakingly touching and desperately sad as it was the first time. It tells the tale of a man with learning disabilities who had been made redundant and of his struggles with the Jobcentre, and life from then on.

Let ‘em in by Nick Mann is an interesting story about a rotten child called Johnnie. I loved this, ‘Emotional turmoil rocked her world the way a squally ocean would menace a dinghy’ and Johnnie has had a tough time growing up. He’s back in foster care and misbehaving…actually that’s an understatement, but then Chris turns up and you’ll have to read it for yourself to see what happens.

Me and Swim by Carla Eatherington is the story of Leighton, fresh out of rehab and about to start a new job, and of SWIM, who keeps leading him astray. This is a somewhat depressing tale but I really liked the way it was structured between the two characters.

A Christmas Cavity by Mark Barry has been published elsewhere so it was familiar to me but it was wonderful to get the chance to reread it. Janet is a dentist, working Christmas Day and helping those on the sprawling council estate her practice is surrounded by. She thinks she’s finished for the day but then one last patient turns up, and everything changes for her.

The Demise of Jersey Gaz by Alfonso Lygo is set in Guernsey where Leo has moved into his girlfriend’s flat and it covers the relationships between the tenants of the other flats, Em and Fran and Fran’s eventual boyfriend, Gaz. Leo hates Gaz but when he gets his chance to cause him some serious damage he doesn’t, taking a subtler route instead.

Wanderland by Curtis Sabin. This is the beautifully told story of Amy, a young homeless woman. We see the desperation of the way she is living, and why she’s ended up where she has. One Christmas Eve an old friend bumps into her by chance and offers her a lifeline. This is an incredibly moving story and I was hooked as we headed for that happy ever after, but then as with all good stories, there’s a twist, and I didn’t see it coming.

The Ladder by Novelette Williams. Chester is a writer and has the most wonderful library with a beautiful oak ladder to reach his books with, until it gets broken. His wife, Harriet, is unsympathetic, and a hideous character. Christmas arrives and although their marriage was not a happy one I did not expect what happened to happen but it was written very well and I enjoyed the part of man’s best friend, played by Lochaber.

A Tasting by Kit Bachmann is a tale of fantasy and mystery with the character being someone from another world. She, guided by her Master, is on the hunt for someone suitable for the feast and when buying a coffee finds exactly what she is looking for.

This terrific collection of short stories is then followed by a selection of sonnets, poetry and haikus by these same authors, who are undoubtedly a talented bunch. Over a very short space of time there has been a tremendous amount of work put into this collection both by the authors and those who have to pull the work together and get it into a state where it can be published. Everyone should be congratulated.

It particularly delights me that the proceeds go to a local food bank, so go on get yourself a copy, it is Christmas after all.

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