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Lizzy11268

Liz Loves Books.Com.

Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere.  All views my own. Mostly.

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Mike Carey
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The White Road...

The White Road - Sarah Lotz

I loved this whilst being inordinately disturbed by it – you know those times where you read something or watch something and it plays on your mind for days even weeks afterwards, leaving you feeling slightly perturbed for no reason you can put your finger on. I’m a fan of books that do that – means they really have gotten under your skin.

‘Who is the third who walks always beside you?’

Yes. That.

So with “The White Road” then, Sarah Lotz gives us a kind of a ghost story, with an edge of horror and a side of creepy “look behind you” vibe. Simon is not particularly likeable and falls into things – after a caving expedition goes awry he finds himself somewhat of a You Tube superstar. Trying to cash in on that his friend sends him off to climb Everest – the narrative jumps between Simon and Juliet, a previous climber, its not until much later that their two stories come together.

Sarah Lotz as she always does writes with an atmospheric, darkly twisted tone that just gets right to the heart of things. I shivered my way through this, I was living on that mountain with Simon and with Juliet – I couldn’t look away and the night in between the two days I read this over was full of those weirdly incoherent dreams that you only half remember when you awake. For me, that’s clever, beautiful writing right there.

 

I don’t want to talk about the actual plot much – there are many levels I could dissect for you but let’s not do that – Just know that if you are a fan of creepy, intense and  authentic feeling stories then The White Road will tick every box for you. The author walks the line between the real and the imagined so beautifully, the mythology that she builds The White Road from – the third man factor – is enough to make you nervous to begin with. The tension and the sense of unease build inexorably over the course of the storytelling, the setting is wild and uncontrollable and that comes across brilliantly. By the end, an end that haunts, I was so involved that it was hard to leave behind.

 

The White Road is chilling, in more ways than one, it is also intelligent, wonderfully written and has an enigmatic, mysterious other sense about it that will dig deep into your consciousness. From the opening claustrophobic and downright scary set up to the strangely even more claustrophobic mountain, you will get hook line and sinkered into this one – when a novel literally heightens all your senses as you read it you know you’ve got a good one.

 

Highly Recommended.

The Devil You Know...

The Devil You Know - Mike Carey

This is a reread for me, huge fan of the Castor novels so the next little while will be loads of fun while I revisit that world. They are brilliant. So this is less a review and more a "read them - read them all!"

 

The Body in the Ice.

The Body in the Ice - Alfred A. Knopf Publishing Company

Really enjoyed this – you know I love my modern detective stories but sometimes its nice to read a mystery set in a time when there were no mobile phones or DNA matches or anything really except legwork, good old fashioned common sense and the use of the little grey cells (Yes this is a little bit Christie)

 

This is my first novel in this series although I have the other one sat in the never ending pile somewhere so will definitely have to dig this out – I was particularly struck by the setting and the atmosphere in The Body in the Ice and I loved how A J Mackenzie (another spot on writing team) wove plenty of humour into the narrative. It made for a fun and compelling read, the mystery elements are spot on and the writing style is easy and immersive. Great for a Sunday afternoon (which was when I read this one pretty much in a single sitting)

 

The historical elements were great – letters and actual conversations and the team of Hardcastle and Chaytor worked really well, I’ll look forward to going back in time (again) and read their first adventure. This is old school storytelling at its best and whilst I’m not generally a huge fan of Historical fiction there are exceptions to the rule and this is one of them.

 

Villages and community (loved Amelia) family dynamic and the social strata of the day bring  this novel to life – that with the occasionally Holmes like detection elements and a gorgeously drawn cast of eclectic characters make The Body in the Ice a wonderful read.

 

Recommended.

New Boy - Or Othello in the Playground.

New Boy (Hogarth Shakespeare) - Tracy Chevalier

This is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series where different authors take on retellings of Shakespeare, presumably to make it more accessible.

In "New Boy" it is Othello that is under the spotlight - Tracy Chevalier moves the action to a school playground and sets it over a single day - the narrative of the play transitions really well to this environment, closed and clique - New Boy "O" arrives at an all white school and meets "Dee" - friendships form, relationships develop then one jealous and destructive lad shatters everything.

I enjoyed this - the author brings a sense of atmosphere, a special kind of tension to the storytelling, if you know the play you'll know things are not going to end well, if you don't then you'll find it utterly gripping. This is not a straightforward plot redevelop, nuances are added to fit in with the setting, the language used is cleverly insightful, casual racism, playground politics all used to great effect.

The claustrophobic school setting makes this work - this is the first of these I have read but if the other authors tackle it as well I'd like to read the others. As a Shakespeare fan I loved seeing this pan out, it was intriguing, emotive and really rather good.

Fallen. Asleep most likely...

Fallen - Lauren Kate

I read this to the end in the hope that something might happen that would encourage me towards books 2 and 3 - but no. It was readable, I didn't hate it hence finishing it but I read so much YA of depth and this one was shallow, predictable and a little simplistic. Also the main character (Luce) didn't really have much too her. She did what girls in this type of YA are supposed to do but with a distinct lack of flair. In fact she was somewhat irritating as were the rest of the cast.



I liked the premise, but the group dynamic was a little too cliche, nothing really happened that you couldn't see coming on page one. The writing is fine, its just not special. I know this series has a lot of fans and I can see why in one way but it wasn't for me. There was a lot of wandering around and filler, a lot of wide eyed angst but little else in the way of substance.

Okish. I have the other two books and they look beautiful (in fact probably one of the stars I give this is for the cover) so maybe they'll encourage me back in one day. But for now I think I'll leave Luce and the rest to their shallow love in.

#4MK - The Fourth Monkey (Do No Evil)

The Fourth Monkey - A.J. Barker

Ha ha LOVED this. Easy 5* read. Clever plotting, great characters and a spot on "bloody hell" ending. Gruesome too. I rather relished the gruesomeness not sure what that says about me.
Still. Excellent excellent stuff.
Full review closer to publication at request of publisher. Put it on your lists though folks!

If We Were Villains...

If We Were Villains: A Novel - M. L. Rio

Because I am huge fan of Shakespeare and all that entails this book worked for me on every level. I lived this book and loved it. It is a homage to the bard and of course an atmospheric, beautifully layered and indomitably emotional story in its own right.

The comparisons to The Secret History are for once quite valid, but shoot me if you like, I much preferred this. I'm not a fan of Tartt's overly pretentious and self absorbed writing style that lacks any sense of editing, its not that I didn't enjoy The Secret History I did, but it banged on interminably at times taking 5000 words to get as much depth into the action as M L Rio manages here in mere paragraphs. So as a very subjective thing for me this was much better. Plus I should probably say its similarities are less than its differences so any comparisons made are on the surface.

I read it in 4 hours today stopping only for caffeine hits and got entirely caught up in this insular, elite and yes pretentious world of a group of theatre students whose friendship, love and obsession leaks off the stage and into their personal interactions. The author uses Shakespeare both allegorically and practically - the language they speak, the way they form ties, its all beautifully written and stunningly addictive. The last paragraph shot me off my chair, so perfectly clever was it, having been lulled into the ebb and flow of a novel that seemed to be done with me at that point suddenly going ha ha NO now you will think of me always. And I will..

An amended and fuller review will follow when I'm on the blog tour but this is going to be a novel I return to again and again. For its rich language, its incredibly divisive characters and its beautiful tribute to the work of Shakespeare, a man who formed the basis of a whole lot of our pop culture language use today. For me it was spot on perfect

Don't Close Your Eyes (and Try Not to Breathe)

Don't Close Your Eyes: A Novel - Holly Seddon

Heart breaking and heart stopping in equal measure.

Review closer to publication. But this following on from Try Not To Breathe puts Holly Seddon right up there on the must read list. Genuinely clever and beautifully written psychological drama. Proper writing innit ;)

The Mayfly...

The Mayfly: The chilling thriller that will get under your skin (Charlie Priest Thriller) - Hazel St James

Wow I loved The Mayfly. More than I expected to (always a good thing) and that is probably down to the completely compelling characters (Charlie Priest my newest book crush) and the rest (Georgie my newest girl crush) plus the brilliantly horrific plot which does get right under your skin. **slight shudder**

I won’t give anything away but the story fairly rocks along, whilst at the same time fleshing out (so to speak) the characters, digging them into your consciousness so when bad things happen to them you are all discombobulated – and bad things do happen. Boy do they.

I like to find new crime fiction that has a different spin to put on things – what James Hazel does here is give you all the elements of a decent crime thriller with added oomph. Charlie Priest really is no ordinary lawyer – I’ll let you find out why for yourselves – but it adds a brilliantly intriguing twist on things that allows for some really meaningful moments in a plot full of layered depth. Also, his family is kind of weird – in the best reading way, I loved them. Even the one that I should probably be wary of.

I loved the past/present elements that all fused together ultimately, I really had no idea where this was going to end up, another reason for enjoying it thoroughly – I like the unpredictable not a lot get me that way these days. Even if I’d worked out every nuance though I would still have loved it – the characters are so fascinating, their relationships in our infancy of knowing them here are cleverly addictive – can’t wait for more now. Really. If the next book in the series is as good then its heading straight onto the must buy list.

Occasionally horrifically shiver inducing, never less than irresistible, The Mayfly is really top notch. Intelligently constructed, characters to die for and a truly sterling opening to what I hope will be a long running series. Charlie Priest. Remember the name.

I love this part.

Highly Recommended.

Penance...

Penance - Kanae Minato

I read Confessions from this author and loved it, a one sitting read and Penance was another one sitting read. It was strange and dark, occasionally heart breaking and beautifully done. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel I was immediately hooked in to this tale of a group of children caught up in the horrific murder of one of their friends, a sinister threat from the girls mother and how that affected them growing up..

Penance is less a murder mystery and more a character drama – the murder, and the mothers emotionally charged “threat” setting off a chain of life events for the 4 girls and indeed for the mother herself. Each girl tells her tale, about that day and about their lives after, all of them in one way or another end up paying that “Penance” that was demanded of them at a young and impressionable age. Kenae Minato really delves into personality here, taking us on a twisted, atmospheric journey through the lives of these characters, whose realities differ so much but all are tied into a seemingly unbreakable bond to that one event.

The cultural aspects are equally involving, as I read I got a real sense of both the differences and the similarities between life in Japan and life here – there are different expectations, different society rules and hierarchy, but people are people everywhere. Grief, love, trauma, those things have no borders and I was struck by how beautifully the author managed to portray the feelings, the passion, the core heart of everyone we meet within the pages.

Utterly riveting, everything in Penance hovers underneath the surface, the decisions made, the actions taken, all informed by the past at differing levels. The plotting is taut and extraordinarily clever, its not until you come to the end of Penance and look back at it that you understand fully the complete tragedy. Because Penance is a tragedy, almost Shakespearean in nature, I devoured every word of it with a shivery intensity.

Absolutely Highly Recommended.

Based on a True story - or how to spoil movies for the masses.

Based on a True Story - Delphine de Vigan, George Miller

Based on a true story really wasn't for me. But I should make it clear that in this case it is most definitely the story rather than the writing quality that was my issue. I actually rather loved the way Delphine De Vigan writes so I'll hopefully read some more from her in the future.

This is about this book though.

Problem being this has been done before and honestly? In my opinion better. The mysterious meeting of two minds, an ongoing friendship developing that becomes toxic or perhaps mutually destructive, with an ambiguous open ended maybe whatever finale that supposedly leaves the reader in a whirl but honestly, left me slightly flat. The lilting beautiful prose is what held me in the novel not the telling of the tale.

And seriously I'm sorry but you know there probably are people out there in the world who have not yet seen the intensely brilliant "The Usual Suspects" but have always intended to do so, who may decide to read this novel. The author lays out the ending of The Usual Suspects in full, including the final scenes in that movie (which DID leave me in a whirl and is cleverly, insanely excellent) thereby giving away all its secrets and even some of the nuances. Why???? Why would you DO that. It irritated me beyond all reason - LUCKILY I have seen that movie, no spoiler for me. I believe it was to make comparisons to how the character in "Based on a True Story" was feeling but you know sorry this was no Usual Suspects and this character is no Kayser Soze. No. Just no.

2* for the beautiful writing but you can keep the rest.

A Dark So Deadly..

A Dark So Deadly - Stuart MacBride

Give me "Fifteen minutes, Twenty tops" and I'll tell you about this brilliant brilliant crime novel.

If Carlsberg did Crime fiction...


Anyway, probably one of the best I've read in the genre and certainly one of Mr MacBride's best (if not the) Review to follow.

Legion...

Legion (The Talon Saga) - Julie Kagawa

Gosh I thoroughly enjoyed that one. I enjoyed it so much I just said gosh. Blimey!

I've been following this series from the start and it has just gotten better and better with every book - I'm kind of quite sad that book 5 will be the finale I believe because I've been so engaged with Ember and Riley and all the rest, in a world where Dragons live among us disguised as humans and a war rages between Talon (the dragon hierarchy and a shadowy group if ever there was one) and St George (of the Dragon, obviously, and not exactly pure of heart themselves)

Julie Kagawa has built a beautifully layered world into the Talon series, with some memorable characters and manages to give you an adrenalin hit and an emotional tug on the heartstrings every time. The more you fall in love with the characters the harder she hits you - throwing everything and the kitchen sink at them and keeping you on the edge of your seat. After the cliffhanger of the previous book (and if you are looking for salvation in this review sorry you'll have to wait and read to see how that pans out) I was ready for high drama and got exactly that. As Talon's dastardly plans start to come into the light and Ember faces her brother head on, don't expect a walk in the park, you are going to be on the rollercoaster.

I have a love/hate relationship with Dante, a love/love relationship with Riley and stagger between adoring Ember and wanting to slap her - its great when a fantasy story can really immerse you into it to the level that you believe it all while you are there - I genuinely feel that perhaps Dragons are a thing for at least a few hours after finishing these.

Overall a really terrific addition to the Talon saga - and after the end of THIS book I am genuinely on tenterhooks waiting for the finale - will the good guys win out in the end? Who exactly ARE the good guys? Brilliant. Total utter escapism and all beautifully written and plotted.

Bring it on!

Dragons. Yes.

Highly Recommended as a series especially for fans of YA fantasy.

How To Stop Time

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

How To Stop Time is a beautiful work of fiction – you know I read a lot of books (this is actually book 120 for me of 2017) and I don’t think I have ever read an author that just grasps and conveys the vagaries of human nature quite like Matt Haig does – in a way that makes you feel like he is writing just for you. The emotional sense of his writing is enduring and never anything less than compelling no matter the story being told or the premise that starts it.

 

So there is that – and How To Stop Time falls firmly under page turner, with a  dash of passionate prose, a smattering of emotional trauma and a big hit of poignant insightful commentary on the human race. Pretty much what this author does in a nutshell.

 

Tom is one of those characters that will stay with you long after you have finished reading his story – and what a story it is. He is old, plagued (or blessed maybe that will be subjective) with a condition that means he ages at a much slower rate. Not immortal but feeling that way, he is part of history and an observer of it – we see him over time, at his best and his worst, this is a love story with a touch of mystery and is hugely gripping from the very first page until the tear inducing poignant finale.

 

I won’t give away much, this is one of those books that everyone will come to in their own way and will take from it different things – but Matt Haig manages to bring history alive on the page here through Tom and what he experiences, it almost feels as if you are living it with him. The characters he and we meet along the way all come with their own peculiarities and sense of self, the story weaves somewhat of a magic spell on the reader, or it did on me at least I was totally immersed into this one all the way.

 

The thing about stories is that they transport you to other places, make you think about other things. When you have a master storyteller at work it becomes so much less about construction and literary merit and all of those bookish things that as a reviewer I’m supposed to be perhaps commenting on –  and just becomes about you, as a reader, in those few short moments of time you are living in that other world. Matt Haig is simply, when you remove the white noise, a master storyteller.

 

I loved this book. Just that.

 

Highly Recommended.

Flame in the Mist.

Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

Wow. So anyway I haven't swapped between reads as I normally do since I picked this up again this morning so I've finished it today and I thought it was beautiful. Absolutely mesmerising.

Didn't know anything about it beforehand, about it being a Mulan retelling or anything about the author who I've not read before (but will certainly keep doing now) I've found that out since but this story and these characters just transported me away. Completely away. I lived every minute of it. And that to me is the sign of a blinking good book.

I shall of course review properly for publication. For now though. Yes. Lovely. Do it again please. Didn't want this one to end..and WHAT an end.

Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel - Sarah Vaughan

Incredibly authentic, highly involving character drama here, in a story that could easily be ripped from the headlines.

Sarah Vaughan delves into a world of privilege and power, showing one scandal and criminal prosecution from many angles with insightful and realistic storytelling. Emotionally resonant with often teeth gnashing inducing truths about the system, Anatomy of a Scandal is really quite incredibly addictive and will leave you with a lot to think about.

Brilliant stuff. Full review at publication but very happy to be part of the early buzz here on social media - Really excellent writing, could just as easily be fact as fiction and I will have no trouble at all shoving it at everyone I know when its out there.