Review: The Other Woman by Laura Wilson

DSCF1505I’ve been reading a lot of new crime/thriller releases lately, many of which have fallen into the sub category of police procedural. When done well this is a genre I really enjoy, but I have found myself craving a bit of a change on the crime fiction front. When I was lucky enough to receive Laura Wilson’s new book, The Other Woman, I was very excited. Not only did the book seem to be the answering change I was looking for, being more of a domestic thriller, but it also had an author quote from fellow crime writer Jo Spain. I recently read Spain’s new novel, Sleeping Beauties, and really enjoyed it (review here), so the fact she was describing this book as ‘stand out domestic noir . . . perfectly paced’ sounded very promising.

On the surface this thriller has a simple but effective premise. We are presented with Sophie, a wife and mother whose life appears to be completely enviable. Yet one day a message invades Sophie’s home, a message scrawled across the round robin Christmas newsletter Sophie sends out yearly; HE’S GOING TO LEAVE YOU. LETS SEE HOW SMUG YOU ARE THEN, YOU STUPID BITCH. Sophie could ignore the letter, if it wasn’t for the small fact that she’s already done nothing about the one before this, or the one before that. Desperate for answers, Sophie risks it all to gain access to the truth, stumbling along on a path which soon turns horrible wrong. All in all, a pretty sound and intriguing premise!

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Review: Classic Tails with Eliza Garrett

DSCF1495In one of my last reviews I looked at The Book of Forgotten Authors and talked a bit about the rise in bookish themed gifts as we draw nearer to the run up to Christmas. One of my favourite things to do in Autumn and Winter is to visit a bookshop and see the displays of these literary themed gifts. They always give me great inspiration for presents, as well as making me hopeful that I might be gifted one myself! The books I want to talk to you about today follow this category perfectly, and I was thrilled to receive them in the post!

Named the ‘Classic Tails’, this is a collection of books focusing upon the ‘greatest works of literature, as told by the finest breeds’. Yes, that’s right! These small yet delightful series of books take some of the best loved classics and reinvent them with a decidedly furry twist! I currently have in my possession Pugs and Prejudice and The Picture of Dorian Greyhound, but there are also parodies of Romeo and Juliet as well and The Great Gatsby.  As an animal and classical literature lover, I couldn’t think of anything more entertaining. I cannot thank Eliza Garrett enough for her humorous reworkings!

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Review: The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

DSCF1491I’ve already explained in my Under a Pole Star review how much I adore autumn and winter. Yes, these seasons create the perfect reading atmosphere, but there is something else which I love about this time of the year. Around about now as we head into the lead up to Christmas, I always start to see a rise in the number of  book related gift displays in shops such as Waterstones. More specifically, ‘coffee table’ books with beautifully designed covers which can’t help but catch the eye of literary lovers. I won’t lie; I am probably a publishing marketers dream customer.

Understandably, when I saw Christopher Fowler’s new release, The Book of Forgotten Authors, I immediately requested it. It’s exactly the kind of thing which I think makes an amazing present for big readers and I would love to receive myself as a gift. Who doesn’t love books about books, or more specifically in this case, books about the authors behind the books? I thought the premise for this book was also unique and refreshing, as it is not simply a list of great authors you should read, but a list of ninety-nine authors who for various reasons have been forgotten, overlooked or neglected. When you think about how many authors there have been since the creation of the printing press alone, its glaring obvious how many of these we will never stumble across or experience in a single lifetime. What better way than having this book to receive some fantastic recommendations of books which have somehow strayed away from the literary cannon? If that’s not enough, you only have to look at the absolutely delicious cover design to be sold. The gold foil lettering against the dusty pink cover and the multiple silhouette images was always going to be a winning combination in my eyes – and this is only the proof copy!

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Review: Defender by G X Todd

DSCF1488I think it’s fair to say that there has been a rise of late in the number of dystopian/post apocalyptic novels being released. I’m more than happy with this! I really enjoy this genre of novel and love the imagination it can produce, as well as the commentary it can call into play upon our own society. Yet with the rise in these kinds of novels there are undoubtedly many familiar tropes and plot devices which we often see played out again and again. Novels which have come before, The Handmaid’s Tale being one such example, set a benchmark for later authors, inspiring their own works. I have no issue with clever similarities being used, but I always look for a dystopian novel which has its own clear voice and original ideas.

When I read the brief summary of G X Todd’s debut novel, Defender, I was immediately intrigued. Although vague in its approach, this summary brought into sharp focus the impact of voices within the novel; specifically, voices inside someone’s head which do not belong to their own thoughts, a distinct and separate entity. With many people led on by the whisperings in their head, urging them to violence and horrific brutality, the world has turned on itself, civilisation destroyed beneath the blood of these victims in a post apocalyptic life. In what is left of the world, hearing voices is a dangerous ability, something not understood and to be feared. When Pilgrim, a solitary man, listens to the voice in his head urging him to stop at the long lost scene of a girl selling fresh lemonade, a story is set into motion, their meeting perhaps more than mere chance. Together they begin a journey through what is left of the world, a world where the voices inside your head might save or slaughter you in equal measure.

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Review: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

DSCF1487You know that feeling you get when a story has become so ingrained in your mind that it refuses to leave, even after the last pages have long since been surrendered?. I love those kind of stories, especially ones which wash gently upon you with their quiet beauty. These stories are inescapable, taking residence in your mind as their ideas continue to grow and bring you comfort. Something within their essence refuses to be forgotten. Without a doubt, The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is one such story.

At first glance the novel is strikingly beautiful. Designed by Diana Beltran Herrera, the brilliant blue and cheerful pink colours produce a vibrant, rather sweet cover. I think I can be excused for thinking the novel may be a bit fluffy at first glance, yet having now read the book, I have fallen even more in love with the intricate cover design.

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

DSCF1473I have a confession; despite its fame and ever popular reviews, I had never before read the modern classic that is The Handmaid’s Tale. Whilst I’d read other things by Margaret Atwood and knew that she was an excellent writer, I had never really felt a burning desire to pick up what is arguably her most famous piece of fiction. With the rise in dystopian novels, many of them seemingly influenced by the iconic Atwood, as well as the success which seems to have followed the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, I decided it was about I ticked this one off my list.

As already mentioned, this book is a dystopian novel set in a time period which is assumed to be in the somewhat near future. We follow Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, in a version of America where the government has been overthrown by a totalitarian, Christian theonomy. Essentially, what this means for Offred is that she has one sole purpose in her life, and that is to breed. Stripped of all of the former rights of her gender, Offred must obey the rules or face the same brutal fate of those who have already been punished or hanged in the name of God. Through Offred, we come to understand the true horrors of this world.

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