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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.

Currently reading

The Vagrant
Peter C. Newman
The Good Daughter: A Novel
Karin Slaughter
The Second Sister: A Novel
Claire Kendal
The Waking Land
Callie Bates
Mississippi Blood
Greg Iles
bookbridgr.com

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.

The Power. Pure brilliance.

The Power - Phil Nightingale, Emma Fenney, Audible Studios, Thomas Judd, Naomi Alderman, Naomi Alderman, Adjoa Andoh

I’m actually not sure what to say about The Power. It did knock my socks off (so to speak) and it is in the category of “Godarn hot page turner” in my head. It explores many, I suppose Feminist if you want to put a label on things, themes but you know in the end there are far more intelligent reviewers out there who can (and indeed do) dissect that for you and break it down but in the end I just enjoyed the hell out of it. On her website  the author describes it so : “It’s a piece of feminist science fiction – or speculative fiction, or fiction about a fictional thing rather than a real thing (curious concept)”  I think she’s as close as I’m going to get anyway, seeing as how it is her story.

 

Anyway, the point being it is blinking good. And very very clever both in concept and execution. A novel read if you like. A supposedly fictional twist on historical fact being read in order to offer feedback, ” The Power” charts the time of the Cataclysm, when suddenly women everywhere develop vast physical power which renders them almost unstoppable. Naomi Alderman then proceeds, through the stories of several characters, to turn the world we know upside down into pretty much the opposite of what we have now. She does so in a way that is not a rush to judgement but a subtle changing of the guard – and anyone that thinks a world run by the supposedly maternal side of society is likely to be all puppies and kittens should think again.

 

With a brilliant eye towards intelligent characterisation and a storytelling touch of genius, The Power envelops you into a world which feels entirely believable, if off kilter.  The things that our characters experience are emotionally resonant and often stop you in your tracks – some of the descriptive scenes are positively heart stopping, all this whilst at every turn the author is making you stop and think.  Also to be honest  she made me wonder if there is any actual hope for humanity. Maybe…

 

It is intensely absorbing and utterly utterly gripping from the opening salvo to the very last line, which let me tell you is one of the best last lines I’ve read in any novel ever – that moment where you go Oh HA very good and you just have to sit there in awe for a moment.

 

This one will stay with me, Allie I think especially will keep me up at night – but overall The Power is beautiful. Or I think so anyway. It had everything I want from a novel, the ability to give my brain a work out, challenging my preconceptions on things, whilst telling a very human set of stories and keeping it as real as you can within the speculative fiction genre.

 

Loved loved loved.

 

Highly Recommended to everyone.

The Lucky Ones.

The Lucky Ones - Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards gives good psychological thriller. Its been true since he started writing them but each book has been better than the last and The Lucky Ones was really excellent, with that genuine addictive quality and a clever, fast moving, considered plot that keeps things nicely unpredictable.

 

The Lucky Ones is kind of a hybrid serial killer/psychological thriller, as ever the author has created some memorable characters – then thrown them into untenable situations and messed with their happy place (in this case literally) It is gripping stuff, as bodies pile up and nobody can get a handle on anything – in the meantime we follow along with Ben and son Ollie as they both come to terms with a marital split, but suddenly find themselves caught up in something much worse.

 

I loved the setting here – so beautifully tranquil which made the odd dead body suddenly lying around all the more real – I also thought the police procedural elements were beautifully layered into the wider plot so it all read perfectly, as the story twists and turns towards its ultimate solution you’ll be hanging off every page.

 

Look to be honest I’m a bit numbed to this genre now reading so  widely in it as I do, but whilst there are occasional good ones and many more enjoyable ones and the very very odd incredible one, I know that with this author I’m in safe hands. I never do anything less than bang through them, completely engaged, immersed into whatever story is being told, the characters never fail to stay with me and I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. Quality writing, quality storytelling, imaginative plotting and a damn fine read, that I know but as for the rest, well its a mystery.

 

Whilst I think that “The Magpies” will remain definitively my favourite novel from Mark Edwards (is that somewhat of a challenge? Absolutely!) The Lucky Ones is without doubt one of the best. So yes. Highly Recommended.

 

The End of the Day. Magic.

The End of the Day - Claire North

I loved The End of the Day. I took my time with it, a novel to be savoured for its utterly beautiful writing, gorgeous descriptive nuances and Charlie, the character at the heart of it, one I will never forget.

 

The world Claire North has built here is one of many levels, Charlie, who takes on a new role as the harbinger of death whilst learning about life, is so wonderfully normal that you just sink into his world feeling like it is all entirely possible. The End of the Day is melancholy, intense, a book that has something to say in the underneath of it all if you listen to its small quiet voice. The places Charlie visits, the people he meets, some of them in their last moments, just ingrain themselves into your senses, this is a book with that thing called “all the feels”

 

I actually find it quite difficult to describe with any actually useful thoughts at all, it just IS – Claire North writes with a peaceful complexity, she drew me  into her story without me hardly noticing until I was just living it all right alongside Charlie and the rest of the eclectic, memorable characters I met along the way. Some of the scenes are heart stopping, most of them gently contemplative but ultimately utterly gripping, a book to sink into and leave the world behind.

 

Overall just total total magic. Magic on the page.

Highly Recommended.

Domina. No. No no.

Maestra 02. Domina - LS HILTON

I was one of the fans of Maestra, for which I gave 5* and a good review, because Maestra, for all its faults, was one of the most fun books I read last year and had a main protagonist who I really engaged with, the murderous, witty, sexy Judith.

Well now Judith is living under an alias and for me in Domina lost all her pizzazz. It was relatively dull in places and the story this time didn't, for me anyway, have that edginess and full on feeling that Maestra had provided. I kind of enjoyed it in a very peripheral way but by the time I was heading into the last portions I was really just reading to find out where Ms Hilton would leave things prior to the finale. TO BE CONCLUDED screams the ending, granted in a way that will indeed ensure that I read the next book, but I'm hoping the author brings back the intense sparkle of the original.

If you liked Maestra you may well like Domina - it has the name dropping, sex scene thing going on that is going to be this series trademark but again the life in that seemed dulled to me too - the character doubted herself, maybe to try and add some layers, but that didn't work terribly well in my honest opinion.

The last novel felt sprawling, jet setting, maybe not completely original but loads of fun and frolics - whereas Domina for me had chronic second book syndrome - I didn't hate it and the writing is just as it was, its not a sudden drain of ability - but the plotting was annoyingly convoluted on occasion, Judith didn't engage me as she did before and I doubt I'll remember much about it moving forward apart from that very last moment.

I'll be very interested to see where the author takes book 3. The end here suggests that perhaps Judith will go out with a bang (yes yes had to be done) - I hope so. But sorry Domina just didn't have "it"

Shadow Rider...

Shadow Rider (The Shadow Series) - Christine Feehan

Hmm.

Ok so I quite enjoyed this but only in a very popcorn let's read something with not an awful lot of depth, I can't be bothered to think too much sort of way. With it's hot males and submissively cute females and an urban fantasy vibe (shadow walkers) it was perfectly readable stuff and there are some hot scenes in it, lots of flapping around being dramatic and it was great escapism.

The male lead stomps around being domineering, the woman he falls instantly in love with for no good reason whatsoever flaps around a bit pretending resistance but very shortly thereafter falls into his arms, mystery abounds, I kind of fell into this book then fell out of it again a bit bemused.

The writing is cool and immersive, if a little repetitive (yes I know her hair is lovely and lush and whatever but perhaps she should be more concerned with being told how to dress) and it was fun to pootle my way through it, this is a book that you read with chocolate and cupcakes.

Will I read the next in the series? Yes. Is it the best of this genre I've read? No.

But I liked it. Which may sound like damning with faint praise but is just exactly the truth.

Don't Wake Up...

Don't Wake Up: A shocking and compelling new thriller that you will not be able to put down! - Liz Lawler

This was a fast read for me, in many ways your typical psychological thriller but it was superbly menacing and I give it extra points for being quite unpredictable - not necessarily on the "whodunnit" level, although Liz Lawler does a great job of obfuscating things - but more because it didn't feel at all like things would necessarily work out for our main protagonist. Did all come good in the end? Well you'll have to read to find out.

It has that addictive quality that I look for in this genre, certainly a page turner, also intensely creepy at times. Imagine you are assaulted but nobody believes you. Imagine then that at every turn you are looking more and more unbalanced but you know that you are not. That is an intriguing layer to Don't Wake Up, I also give points for the fact that the characters mostly behaved reasonably given the circumstances. If I had one bugbear it was one police officer character that was way too caricature but I won't say more because everyone reads differently

Overall Don't Wake Up is a great read, especially as a book to sit down with when you just need to read totally in the comfort zone - I have no problem recommending it to fans of this genre, whilst it may not offer anything unique, it is accomplished writing and a banging good story.

A Handful of Ashes

A Handful of Ashes - Rob McCarthy

I was the BIGGEST fan of book one in this series (more details below if you missed it) and with “A Handful of Ashes” I can honestly say this has moved up to favourite series status on my bookish wishlist – one of a handful I’m going to be hotly anticipating every year for as long as they continue. Long may that be…

 

I’m a sucker for a good medical drama and an even bigger one for a good crime drama – with the Harry Kent series Rob McCarthy brings the two together in a fast, addictive, well considered thriller that just had me blasting through it with little thought to anything else around me. Don’t you love those ones?

 

In this story we have a suspicious “suicide”, a possible hospital cover up, grieving parents, danger lurking around every corner and our (anti) hero Dr Kent slowly falling apart at the seams whilst trying to help our (anti) heroine Frankie Noble solve the conundrum. She’s not exactly the most grounded police officer ever but both of them are superbly engaging, inevitably flawed but so beautifully described in sheer force of personality that you just get pulled along with them. The plot is  thoroughly twisted, highly charged emotionally and has an ending that had me on the floor. I loved it.

 

I’d like to give a nod to at least one beautifully written thrilling scene in this involving a fight to save a life – as I came to the end of that chapter I found myself quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat (not that easy in a giant swivel chair) I had to sit and have a nice cup of tea before continuing on. That is not the only genuinely immersive bit of scene setting in A Handful of Ashes but it’s probably the one that will stay with me – What is great about it is that these moments are interspersed with quieter more considered moments and the author digs deep into the multiple layers that make up his characters, insightful writing that means you really feel for everything they go through.

 

Both the medical and the procedural elements that make up the story feel highly authentic, I am definitely one for the tortured souls in fiction therefore Harry Kent holds my attention (I may be a little in fictional love) and overall this is terrific writing, terrific plotting and well, just plain terrific.

 

Highly Recommended.

Ginny Moon...

The Original Ginny Moon - Benjamin Ludwig

This book was both heartbreaking and beautiful, Ginny's voice is superbly engaging, her determination and the hoops she jumps through to achieve her goal are endlessly brave and heart wrenching. I have only a vague sense of autism and how it affects those who have it but this felt genuinely authentic and was a truly wonderful read.

Fuller review in May for publication.

I didn't Fall for The Fall Guy....

The Fall Guy: A Novel - James Lasdun

The Fall Guy was just too slow. That is the basic reason that it was not for me. I'm not sure selling it as a "Taut psychological thriller " is doing it any favours because it is not taut nor is it really a thriller. It is more character study and yes some lovely literary writing the author has got going on here but although I love some literary stuff I need to have at least a sense that something might happen soon. Or at least a little tension.

I think it would have worked better from multiple viewpoints. We only get the one and that one is vaguely monotonous at times and seriously if I wanted to read a cookbook I'd get a cookbook. The plot kind of meanders along until quite late then suddenly things pick up but by then I was genuinely past caring. If we had heard from the other characters in the drama - and that is what this is a character drama- it might have added layers beyond lots of beautiful words tagged together to tell a rather long winded (yes it is only a short novel but trust me it feels long winded) story. For me the ending was lazy too.

Look it's not terrible, certainly James Lasdun has excellent writing skill but I was bored. The only reason I finished it was because it was short and I had an occasional eye on "maybe this is going to have a kick ass finale that will make all this worthwhile". Sadly that did not happen. At least not in my opinion.

I think The Fall Guy and I are not compatible. We had a brief interlude in time but the relationship really wasn't going anywhere.

If you like the Donna Tartt school of novels you will likely love this to be fair. I was the wrong audience and I'm probably missing the nuances of what the author was trying to achieve here, hey it happens.

Almost Missed You.

Almost Missed You: A Novel - Jessica Strawser

I enjoyed Almost Missed You - it was beautifully written, I think I liked the writing more than the story probably which was compelling but peppered with rather divisive characters who I had problems relating to on the level I prefer.

Still, it was a cleverly insightful examination of those things that can make and break relationships, the secrets that can become so large to the person holding them that they think there is no way of speaking them out loud - ending up with everyone concerned being in untenable situations.

Finn runs away from his wife taking their child with him. Suddenly and with no explanation. What follows is an exploration of why he did that, past events overtaking him with sudden repercussions. Jessica Strawser shows many levels, telling it from several viewpoints, including Caitlin, friend to both and this is a beautifully paced family drama.

I found it fairly fascinating to be fair. Finn annoyed me to the point of growling. Seriously insular, his reasons were entirely selfish - yes ok there are psychological issues here he's not entirely unsympathetic but mostly I wanted to slap him hard. That is ok right? Caitlin would rather leave her supposed best friend in agony rather than face up to her own secret and basically Violet was a dishcloth. Yet they held me in their grip the entire time, I wanted to know the outcome for all.

In the end I think it would be fair to say that for me this was a solid read that makes me want to read more from Jessica Strawser, but perhaps it did not quite light the fire under me that it could have done due to my personal dislike of the characters within.

Recommended for fans of womens fiction and family drama.

You. Not for Me.

You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

Have given up on this one at approximately the halfway mark. It just is not doing anything for me. Sometimes it happens that way. Too disjointed and not going anywhere I feel like following because I'm not particularly bothered what happens to Beck who is shallow and uninteresting.

 

Writing is good and Joe's voice is sort of interesting. Sadly I'm a little bored by the plot though and just can't be bothered. Lots of love for this one out there though so if it sounds like your sort of thing give it a go! As I said nothing wrong with the writing quality.