Monday, 23 May 2016

Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill: Notes from a Loud WomanShrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time take to read - 1 day

Pages - 272

Publisher - Quercus

Blurb from Goodreads

West has rocked readers in work published everywhere from The Guardian to GQ to This American Life. She is a catalyst for a national conversation in a world where not all stories are created equal and not every body is treated with equal respect. SHRILL is comprised of a series of essays that bravely shares her life, including her transition from quiet to feminist-out-loud, coming of age in a popular culture that is hostile to women (especially fat, funny women) and how keeping quiet is not an option for any of us.


My Review

This is the debut novel from from Lindy West, a columnist for the Guardian and known in America for some very strong views. This book gives the readers a glimpse into how Lindy went from a shy, self conscious young girl, struggling with her weight and to speak to people to being loud, proud and self accepting. A look into the life of West and what cost can come of being opinionated, in the public eye and challenging misogynistic views.

Firstly, I need to say I had never heard of this author before this book was sent to me and I feel I know her a little after reading such an honest and at times brutal account of her life. The book is, for me, broke into two parts. The first is opinionated, loud, funny and sometimes brash account from a woman who knows who she is and accounting from a time when she didn't. The second is more from what she has experience since becoming more sure of who she is and making her mark in the world.

I think this book will no doubt offend some, make others laugh and hopefully everyone to pause for thought. She is quite graphic when discussing feminine menstruation which may cause discomfort for some readers however points out, quite rightly, that we do not flinch when seeing so much blood and gore on tv.

She recalls being abused about her weight, trolled on Twitter which again some readers may find upsetting, I certainly did. She has come up against many critics and explains her stance point, giving some disturbing examples and other accounts showing how we can learn and grow as people. A relatively positive spin on some unpleasant experiences, a tale of growth and for a few parts a good old fashioned rant, 3/5 for me this time. Thanks to RealReaders for introducing me to a new writer and person of interest, I will be looking up more of West's work. An engaging debut that will make you laugh, grimace, horrified and think!

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Dance With The Enemy by Rob Sinclair

Dance with the Enemy (The Enemy, #1)Dance with the Enemy by Rob Sinclair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 3 days

Pages - 361

Publisher - Clink Street Publishing

Blurb from Goodreads

Carl Logan was the perfect agent. A loner, with no real friends or family, he was trained to deal with any situation with cold efficiency, devoid of emotion. But Logan isn't the man he used to be, or the asset he once was. Five months ago his life changed forever when he was captured, tortured and left for dead by Youssef Selim, one of the world's most violent terrorists. When Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris, linked to the kidnapping of America's Attorney General, Logan smells his chance for revenge. Pursuing his man relentlessly, oblivious to the growing trail of destruction that he leaves in his wake, Logan delves increasingly deep into the web of lies and deceit surrounding the kidnapping. Finally, he comes to learn just what it means to Dance with the Enemy.


My Review

Carl Logan is our main character, a loner who works with efficiency, no hesitation and to order. However, after being at the hands of a terrorist when an op when wrong, Logan hasn't quite recovered yet. Pulled back for the job of uncovering who is behind the kidnap of an American attorney general and tasked to get him back Logan is back. Along the way he meets an unlikely partner but Logan doesn't work with people bar the boss, is this the exception and will they help or hinder.

Ooh this is my first dance with this author and had work not got in the way, I could have read it in one sitting. Carl Logan echos Jack Reacher but has an emotional and vulnerable side that we don't get from Reacher. A good guy who is a hired gun, acts on his own and often going over the boundaries of the law to get the job done. He isn't without his flaws and I think that makes him more appealable to the reader as even in fiction, no one is really perfect.

The story is fairly fast paced, from the opening chapter to present day and the case that bring Logan back. Some of the book is a bit brutal in places, from fairly graphic torture scenes and some killings so if you like your books light on that side this may not be the book for you. Many themes are covered, relationships, teamwork, procedures, murder and there are some sex scenes too, just an fyi!

The character of Logan goes through a transition as he recovers, trying to do his job and deal with emotions that he isn't used to, due to his traumatic experience. A flawed character you can't help but root for, this is book one in the series, I will certainly be following up the next adventure. 4/5 for me, thanks to Netgalley for introducing me to a new author, a new series and a great character!

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Monday, 16 May 2016

Cold As Ice by Lee Weeks

Cold as IceCold as Ice by Lee Weeks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 7 days (on and off)

Pages - 358

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Blurb from Goodreads

There's a time to love, a time to hate, a time to heal . . . and a time to kill.
On a freezing cold winter's day, the body of a young woman is pulled from an icy canal in London. To D.I. Dan Carter it looks like a tragic accident rather than the work of a murderer. But D.C. Ebony Willis is not so sure. Why has the woman's face been painted with garish make-up and wrapped in a plastic bag?
Meanwhile cosmetics saleswoman Tracy Collins receives a phonecall. It's been twenty years since she gave up her daughter for adoption, so when Danielle gets in touch, she hesitantly begins to kindle a relationship with her and her grandson Jackson. But when Danielle suddenly disappears, Tracy is plunged into the middle of a living nightmare.
With the discovery of another body, it becomes clear that Danielle is in grave danger. There is no time to lose and Ebony Willis must take on the most challenging assignment of her career - to play the role of the killer's next victim.
From the author of the bestselling Dead of Winter comes a page-turning new thriller that will have you hooked from start to finish.
DC Ebony Willis must relive her own troubled past as she goes undercover to ensnare a ruthless and twisted killer


My Review

A young woman's body is found in a frozen loch, the police quickly ascertain that this isn't an accident and the investigation kicks off. The woman's body has been terribly mutilated and over a lengthy period of time, is this the start of a deranged killer? We meet Danielle & little Jackson, Tracy gave Danielle up for adoption years ago, now Danielle is looking for her to meet her and her little boy. However Danielle soon disappears and Tracy is left to look after the little boy and soon a horrific nightmare.

I really like Lee Weeks writing, the story jumps from the investigation, to Tracy and Danielle and little insights to the killer. The chapters are short which I always like in a book, especially if you are working and only get limited time to read. The killer is twisted and some of what he does to the victims is horrific, more so if you have a good imagination and visualisation. The police enter into a bit of a cat and mouse game and realise just how clever and devious they are.

An action packed read that keeps the reader engaged right to the end, my only complaint is I figured the killer out really quickly for reasons I won't go into as I don't want to spoil it for any other readers. It isn't often I catch on and guess the killer so I was a wee bit disappointed, overall though it is a very clever and twisted story. 3/5 for me, I have read Weeks before and I will read her again.

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The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The Enemy (The Enemy, #1)The Enemy by Charlie Higson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

pages - 407

Publisher - Puffin

Blurb from Goodreads

Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive.

When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician - every adult fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait.

But can they make it there - alive?


My Review

A group of survivors, kids, all fighting to stay alive. A disease took over and destroyed life as we know it. The grown ups got sick, erupted boils, puss and became violent cannibals or died, everyone over fourteen years old. Now a stranger arrives, promising the kids a better way of life over in Buckingham palace, but what will they find there and will they survive the journey.

This is only the first book in a series so it is understandable there are a lot of questions left over. Why the age, why does it affect some animals, why are all adults not affected the same? There are a lot of characters, lots of death, violence & gore it is quite a dark tale, no one and nothing is safe. It reminded me of Lord Of The Flies a little bit and if I am honest it took me a bit to get into as the characters are all really young and some of them quite delinquent. However as the book goes on I started to get into it and appreciate the trials the youngsters face. The book is set across London & whilst I have visited there before I hadn't quite appreciated there is so much to see there, outwith an apocalyptic setting! It is nice to see a location through an authors eyes and tweaked to appreciate the characters storyline and the journey they take. 3/5 for me this time, I have the next two books in the series to read and look forward to where the story goes next.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

May's competition is The GrownUp by Gillian Flynn x1 paperback

Guys this is just a wee short story, in paperback, only 79 pages.





As always, the competition will run until the end of the month, entries by the rafflecopter below. As this is a tiny thin book the competition is open worldwide. Good luck if you are entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kitchens Of The Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal

Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 351

Publisher - Riverrun Books

Blurb from the back cover

To her father, a chef, she's a pint-sized recipe tester and the love of his life. To the chilli chowdown contestants of Cook County, Illinois, she's a fire-eating demon.

To the fashionable foodie goddess of supper clubs, she's a wanton threat. She's an enigma, a secret ingredient that no one can figure out. Someday, Eva wil surprise everyone.

One by one, they tell their story; together, they tell Eva's. Joyful, quirky and heartwarming, this is a novel about the family you lose, the friends you make and the chance connections that define a life.


My Review

Eva Thorvald is our main character, either in the immediate telling or round about with other characters and eventually how they link to Eva. We kick off with Eva as a child and her immediate upbringing. Then chapters flip forward to later in her life, the chapters aren't dated so it takes a bit to work out how far ahead we have jumped. The chapters also introduce new characters and the storylines get the reader drawn in and involved only to jump forward to new people, timelines and drama. Whilst the author does a very good job of capturing the readers interest in many new characters, it is a bit frustrating as you want to know what happened to the people you just left behind.

The book has some recipes dottered sparsely throughout the book, from red onion soup to calorific cakes. This is normally something I would skim past but actually, the way food is dealt with and written about within the story, I actually quite enjoyed reading them and may even try one or two myself. There are many issues addressed in the book, from abortion, child abandonment, loss, and love to relationships, death, jealousy and some bad language.

This is not normally a book I would pick up myself, from the title or theme of food, among others, I am really glad RealReaders sent me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. 3/5 for me this time, I would certainly pick this author up again. Whilst I felt a lot was left unanswered and I generally don't like so much jumping between timelines & characters, I still found myself drawn in and engaged in the characters.



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Thursday, 5 May 2016

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark WoodIn a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - <5 hours

Pages - 352

Publisher - Vintage

Blurb from the back cover

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of her old life and never looked back.

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. A weekend in a remote cottage - the perfect opportunity for Nora to reconnect with her best friend, to put the past behind her.

But something goes wrong.

Very Wrong.

And as secrets and lies unravel, out in the dark, dark wood the past will finally catch up with Nora.

My Review

The story opens, she is running, there is a sense of urgency and that draws the reader in. Nora then wakes up in hospital, in agony wondering what happened and what has she done, hello chapter 2! What a great draw into a story eh, is it any surprise I read this in one sitting, I am too nosey and needed to know what went down. So Nora is our main character, chapter 2 sees us taken back to before the hen party. Nora is a relatively solitary creature, a writer living in a small flat, out of the blue she gets invited to Clare's hen party. Clare was her best friend for years, it has been over a decade since Nora, then Lee, left everyone behind. Surely this is the perfect opportunity to put the past behind her, what could possibly go wrong?

Nora doesn't like to talk about what made her leave James, her sweetheart, speculation was rife, Nora is fiercely private about it but it has been 10 years. She makes a pact with Nina, they will both go and everything will be fine. But Clare has some secrets of her own, like who she is marrying and things get awkward quickly for Nora. Clare's new best friend Flo is weird to say the least, Tom is a bit standoffish, Mel is worrying about her baby at home and Nina can't help but stir things up. The weekend soon takes a sour turn, bitchiness is at a high and just when Nora thinks things can't get any worse the weekend takes a deadly turn.

The author does a great job building up an atmosphere long before anything happens. The reader empathises with Nora, well I did, on the impending reunion and uneasy feelings seeing an old friend can conjure up. Who hasn't lost touch with people who were once a huge part of their life or invited to somewhere you feel a bit socially awkward being. A story of friendships, challenging situations and how your past can still very much be a large factor in your present. 4/5 for me this time, this was my first time reading this author, I would certainly read her again.




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