Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Review: Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Fractured - Catherine McKenzie

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

My Rating:

I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

You know almost immediately on starting Fractured that something has happened which has impacted the lives and the relationships of all the residents in the neighbourhood. However, you don't know what that event is. The storyline works backwards and reveals the incident bit by bit, not truly revealing it until the end. It's a bit like watching a car crash in reverse, time moving backwards from the devastation to the initial impact.

I felt very much like a voyeur while reading this book. I had a window into the lives of the characters, it was like looking out my own window at people I knew well. I was hiding behind the curtains, waiting, watching, and trying not to get caught. It felt wrong but I was so drawn into the story that it felt right. The more I read, the more urgency I felt to read on. I was so curious and eager to find out what had happened, but at the same time, I was enjoying the fact that I didn't know. There was so much going on between all the different characters, and it was buzzing with so many different possibilities that it was impossible to even try and guess at what triggered it all. I was trying to slow down so I could enjoy the sense of urgency and the hold that the story had on me, but at the same time, I was also desperate to read faster.

I can't really say much more as this is one of those books where it's difficult to review and avoid spoilers. What I can say is that I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in one sitting. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, I was riveted.  The pacing was consistent, the character development was excellent, and my anticipation and curiosity levels were through the roof.

Definitely one I would recommend.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

My Rating:

I would like to thank Little, Brown Book Group UK for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

I have to say, I was really looking forwards to this book but the writing style just wasn't working for me. I found myself putting the book down and not being drawn to pick it up again. I did go back to it several times hoping that it was just a matter of time before the story drew me in, but I found that what I was reading just wasn't sinking in and it just wasn't holding my interest.

Obviously, because I didn't finish the book I'm unable to review it in its entirety, but I feel that I need to at least explain why it wasn't working for me. The storyline jumped back and forth between the main plot and backstory quite a bit so I really struggled to keep everything and everyone in the right order. Had I been invested in the characters I don't think this would have been as much of a problem, but I wasn't able to connect to the characters either. I couldn't build a mental image of them, nor was I able to connect with them on an emotional level. I felt like I was watching them from a distance.

The writing style just didn't work for me. I found it to be distant and impersonal, it didn't pull me in or engage me in the way I wanted it to. I was being told a story rather than experiencing the story, and there were too many distractions veering me away from the main storyline.

Many of my friends enjoyed it and highly recommended it so I'm not going to write it off completely. It may just not be the book for me at this moment in time so I will give it another try at a later date.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Review: Love Lies Dead by Kyle M. Scott

Love Lies Dead: A Requiem for Love (Razorblade Candies Book 1) - Kyle M. Scott

Love Lies Dead: A Requiem for Love (Razorblade Candies Book 1) by Kyle M. Scott

My Rating:

Love Lies Dead was so wrong in so many ways and I loved it!!

There I was, feeling all sorry for the main character, feeling his pain, his sorrow, and his grief over the loss of his one true love. Hoping things would get better for him. And wondering...

How's he going to recover from that? That my friends is where things take a darker turn.

The author took me on a rollercoaster ride straight to hell with the most twisted, gory, and disgusting turn to the story. In the blink of an eye there is a whole different side to the character. Gone is the sympathy and instead my stomach was churning. What remains of the story is twisted, disgusting and depraved. It's so wrong on so many levels, and yet I couldn't help but read on.

Definitely one I would recommend for horror fans out there.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Monday, 17 October 2016

Review: Holding by Graham Norton

Holding - Graham Norton

Holding by Graham Norton

My Rating:

I would like to thank Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

Holding read more as light character study, both of the village and of the people who live there, rather than a mystery story. It was an excursion into village life, an exploration of the lifestyle and mentality of a small rural community: the not so secret secrets, the gossip, the interwoven lives of the inhabitants, and the fact that everyone knows everyone else's business etc. The mystery aspect however, was rather predictable.

In the beginning, there were so many characters introduced all at once. I got a bit lost as they were all thrown at me without any depth or description to make them take shape. As the story progressed I got to know them a bit better, but they were simple characters, they didn't have enough substance or complexity to catch my interest.

The writing itself is OK, it gets overly descriptive at times and although it didn't grip me, I did enjoy it enough to keep reading. It's the kind of book that's easy to read. One that you don't have to centre all your attention on, you can pick it up and put it down easily. It's the kind of book that you are able to follow even with outside distractions and interruptions. There were no big reveals or twists, and nothing came as a surprise. It just plodded along at a steady pace.

Holding is not a heavily involved read, it's perfect for a light distraction when you're unable to give a book your complete attention. But, if you're looking for a good mystery that will keep you guessing, this is not the book you're looking for.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Friday, 14 October 2016

Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

My Rating:

I would like to thank Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

Small Great Things takes the good, the bad, and the ugly of racism and tells the story from all sides. It's a powerful story that shines a light on not only the glaringly obvious acts of racism, but also on the small everyday occurrences and comments that go unnoticed, get ignored, or are overlooked. It was hard to read at times, but it's sadly a reality for many and is something we all need to be aware of in order to promote change, acceptance, and compassion for all.

The attitude of Turk and his buddies made my blood boil. White supremacy makes me so angry and I have no time for anyone who behaves in the manner that Turk and his friends do in this book. I found his sections hard to read, I could feel my anger and blood pressure rising with every word. It saddens me to know there are people like this in the world today.

White privilege is something that is hard for many people to understand and accept. It's easy to ignore or to overlook and claim it doesn't exist. It does. It's something I think you need to experience to truly understand, and reading this book gives you a good idea of how common it really is. It certainly gave me something to think about. I was taught from a young age to be considerate of all no matter their colour, religion, or sexual orientation, but it's easy to forget that not everyone treats others in this way. It's too easy to tune out what's going on around you.

I'm sure many of us think we get it, but do we? Are we truly aware? How much don't we see because we've seen it so often that we just don't see it anymore? How often do we not speak up because we don't want that hate or prejudice redirected onto ourselves? There is so much hate in the world over something as simple as the amount of melanin present in a person's skin. We are all one race, the human race. We are all the same. We're different shades of one colour and we all need to embrace that.

There is so much more I want to say and that is what is great about this book. It opens so much up for discussion and I have had a good few deep conversations with my son while reading this book.

I have already recommended it to many of my friends and looking forwards to discussing it with them.

I just have to share this quote from the book. Didn't know where to put it so I'm just going to throw it in here at the end...

"I feel like I've been standing underneath an open window, just as a baby gets tossed out. I grab the baby, right, because who wouldn't? But then another baby gets tossed out, so I pass the baby to someone else, and I make the catch. This keeps happening. And before you know it there are a whole bunch of people who are getting really good at passing along babies, just like I'm good at catching them, but no one ever asks who the fuck is throwing the babies out the window in the first place."

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The Wonder - Emma Donoghue

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

My Rating:

I would like to thank Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

The Wonder is a beautifully written book that explores the power of religion and how faith can prevent someone from seeing the truth of what's going on right before their eyes. It's a slow moving story that's full of atmosphere and superstition. It was disturbing and hard to read at times and created a slow drawn out feeling of dread as the story progressed. I had to put it down every so often to collect my thoughts and distance myself from what was occurring. I can't really go into why I had to do this as that would mean giving spoilers, but I can say that I felt the same anger and frustrations as the main character and I found myself getting angry at some of the choices and decisions that were being made due to religious beliefs.

I have to admit, I struggled a bit in the beginning. I couldn't connect to the main character, I didn't like her, but there is a point around the 30% mark where that all changes and you start to understand her more and get a bit more of her background. At that point I began to like her, my whole reading experience changed and I was really drawn into the story.

Like I said before it's a slow burner and generally I'm not too keen on slow moving stories but it very much suited the storyline. The events take place over a two week period and it feels like the longest two weeks in history. That may sound like a bad thing, but it enhances the feeling of dread and helplessness of the situation.

The only things I had a problem with was how unaware the main character was at realising that the situation was going downhill, she should have picked up on it much sooner. I also felt the ending was a bit too movie-esque.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Friday, 7 October 2016

Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow - Danielle  Paige

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

My Rating:

I received an advanced reading copy of Stealing Snow from Bloomsbury Publishing.

I always try to find a balance between the good and the bad in a book when writing a review but I am really struggling to find anything positive to say about this one. There were promising moments but they were completely drowned out by everything else.

The writing was OK but I would have liked to have seen more time spent world building and firing the reader's imagination. For a fantasy novel, it was very bland and flat. It didn't sweep me away into another land full of magic and amazing scenery like it should have done.

The book actually felt more like an expanded draft of an idea rather than an in depth complete novel. Everything was rushed and the story kept jumping forward without enough development in-between.

I saved the worst for last. The dreaded love triangle. Ok, it's not really a love triangle, it's worse, it's a love square! Yep, you heard me right. A love square. The MC jumped from one love interest to another at the drop of a hat. The whole reason she's there in the first place is to save the love of her life. Who knew saving your soul mate meant sucking face with every male that crossed your path.

I doubt I will be reading any more in this series.

Not one I would recommend.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Review: Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

Foxlowe - Eleanor Wasserberg

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Foxlowe from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Foxlowe is the story of a young girl called Green who has grown up in a large house on the English moors, surrounded by countryside, clean air, fresh food, and lots of room to run and play. Sounds perfect right? It's not! The beautiful big house Green grew up in was actually a commune.

Foxlowe is Green's story of growing up in this environment. It's told by her adult self after having left the commune. As a result, a large majority of the story is from a young child's point of view and is unreliable and hard to follow at times. There is also a complete lack of quotation marks used in the dialogue which makes it even harder to follow.

As a reader I only saw the characters as Green saw them, this made them feel very one dimensional. There was no depth to them, everything I knew and learned about them was very simplistic and experienced through a child's eyes. It made it hard to put everything together, to understand the motivations and choices of the other characters.

There were so many loose ends and gaps in the story because of this unreliable, one-dimensional POV. What drove each of them to join the commune? Why did they all look to Freya? What were the dynamics of the relationships? What was the history between Freya and Richard? Where did Green and Blue come from? Who started the commune and why, and what is the history of the commune itself? What is the scattering? The time of crisis? The bad?

The split of the commune was never explored properly. There is a very basic explanation but again it's through a child's eyes and it needed more. There are many things left unexplained, stories half told, much that I don't know and would like to have had answers to, and many characters and occurrences that I would have liked to have seen expanded much more than they were.

I'm not sure I would recommend it. There are much better cult/commune books out there. I feel like Foxlowe was lacking a lot and only scratched the surface of what it could have been. Green was just too unreliable as a narrator.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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