Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Once Upon a Dream: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? 

It should be simple - a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess's, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over. 

With a desperate fairy's last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent's agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and more importantly, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

What did I think?

It won't come as a surprise to many that I love a good twist on a fairytale, so what better than a Twisted Tale?  It did melt my brain a little that I picked book 2 before book 1 but the allure of Sleeping Beauty over Aladdin was too much to resist.  I'm sure they are individual stories anyway, so they don't need to be read in order.

I did have rather high expectations for this book and although it delivered on many counts, I found it perhaps a tiny bit too long-winded.  We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, so I don't need to give it an introduction here, but what we don't know is what happened inside her head when Sleeping Beauty went to sleep.  

Although not as much as I expected to, I enjoyed this alternative fairy story and because I expected a bit of a no-brainer, I was surprised to find that I began to look at things on a deeper level.  Being based in a dreamworld, the whole story has a hint of psychology about it and, once I realised that the story was so multi-dimensional, I enjoyed it more and found it very cleverly written.

I have more books in the Twisted Tales series to read so it will be interesting to see how they fare against this one.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday, 11 January 2019

Alice (Chronicles of Alice 1) - Christina Henry

A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside. In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago. Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful. And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

What did I think?

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one of my favourite books so I was very intrigued to read Christina Henry's alternative story.  I knew from the start that this wasn't going to be a fairytale version of Alice although it is equally as bonkers and entertaining as the original Lewis Carroll book.

When she went missing, Alice was found and reunited with her parents but could only rave about 'The Rabbit'.  Her parents were unable to cope and put Alice in an asylum where she was forgotten and left to rot.  The only thing keeping her going is the ability to contact the resident in the room next door through a mousehole.  Her neighbour is Hatcher and he has a plan to escape...

Alice and Hatcher's escape from the asylum during a fire also releases the beast known as the Jabberwock and the beast is on their tail as they travel through the Old City in search of the truth about what happened when Alice went missing.  During their travels, we meet familiar characters in unfamiliar forms as Christina Henry takes us on a dark and dangerous adventure through a nightmare land.  I loved meeting the characters and seeing how Christina Henry had twisted the original tale.

Completely unusual and imaginative but very very dark, Alice will give you nightmares as you journey through an Old City that is a dangerous as Wonderland was colourful.  I'm looking forward to continuing the story in Red Queen.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

GUEST POST: Peach - Wayne Barton

I have something a little different on my blog today - a guest post from Wayne Barton about his new book, Peach.  

After revealing the cover for Peach by Wayne Barton back in June 2018 (click here to see the post), I have followed the progress of the book as it approaches its publication.  In November 2018, the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles hosted a Q&A 'pre-launch event' of the book with a local book club in discussion with Wayne Barton.  You can watch the video below then scroll down to read a little bit about the event written by Wayne Barton.

I completed the first draft of Peach at the end of 2015, after having the idea for about eight or nine years before that.  There have been a few revisions since that first draft, so I suppose getting to November and having an actual event for it made it feel like it was 'done' for the first time.  Having the pre-launch event in the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles was a real honour and I was delighted to discuss the book with Zack and Shannon from ZAS Book Club.  Obviously it's still a couple of weeks until the book is published but all the feedback has been very positive early on, I'm just nervous for people to start reading it!

- Wayne Barton -

Click here to pop over to Amazon to pre-order your copy of Peach.

Monday, 7 January 2019

I Invited Her In - Adele Parks

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

What did I think?

As a long time fan of her writing, I haven't read an Adele Parks novel for a while but there was something so very 'inviting' (sorry!) about her new book, I Invited Her In.  As soon as I picked it up, I remembered why I love Adele Parks books so much: the writing is so descriptive and the characters are so very 3 dimensional that it's like watching a soap opera created with wonderful words.

Mel and Abi were friends at university who lost touch when an unplanned pregnancy caused Mel to drop out of her studies.  Many years later, Mel is surprised when Abi contacts her out of the blue and before she knows it she has invited Abi to stay at her house.  Mel's house reminded me a bit of the TV show Outnumbered: always busy and a little frazzled with children at the heart of it.  Just how will childless Abi fit in?  Oh she fits in alright, she makes herself quite at home and I even exclaimed out loud at one point 'what a bitch!'

As Abi makes her intentions clear I was absolutely fuming!  How dare she!  I knew she had an ulterior motive but I didn't realise just how devious she was.  As the cracks in Mel's family spread like a broken eggshell, I was firmly on Team Mel and hoped that blood proved to be thicker than water.  With a bitch like Abi around though, anything could happen.

I loved the way that I Invited Her In put a friendship under the microscope.  Mel considered Abi a friend at university but it's true that you never really know how the other person feels about you.  So many people are fake and it seems like some of us are forever destined to get burned.

This is one of those books that I would place in my bitch-lit genre; Abi really grated on me and made me so mad whereas Mel was so trusting and honest.  I'm even feeling mad just writing about it!  As mad as I was, I couldn't read it fast enough so see if Abi's true colours would be revealed before it was too late.  All in all, a very enjoyable read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Child - Fiona Barton

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

What did I think?

I loved Fiona Barton's debut, The Widow, so I was keen to read her second book, The Child.  With short, punchy chapters alternating between voices, The Child is a very quick read and difficult to put down.  Even though I quite quickly worked out where the story was heading it didn't detract from my enjoyment.

I love the link to The Widow via Kate Waters, the journalist who has a nose for a good story.  I particularly enjoyed reading how Kate worked and felt that she was a journalist with a heart who not only cares about getting a good story but she cares about the subject she is covering.  It enables people to open up to Kate in a way that protects her integrity and shows journalism in a good light.

The other three voices belong to Emma, Jude and Angela.  Emma is a young woman with a troubled past and a strange relationship with her mum, Jude.  Meanwhile Angela is still reeling from the loss of her newborn daughter, Alice, stolen from her hospital room when Angela popped out for a shower.  Angela is convinced that the bones of a baby found on a building site are those of her daughter, Alice, but nobody will listen to her except Kate.  Kate thinks she's on to the story of the century until another mother claims that the bones belong to her baby.  Just who's baby is it?

The Child is an easy, albeit slightly predictable, read that I devoured over a 24 hour period.  It's not going to appeal to those readers who love a massive twist that they didn't see coming, however, it's a well-rounded emotional book that touches on some dark topics with subtlety and respect.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Vox - Christina Dalcher

Silence can be deafening.
Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.
Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.
Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.
For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

What did I think?

I haven't read The Handmaid's Tale (yet) so I went into Vox completely blind from a feminist fiction point of view.  I loved the premise that women could only speak 100 words a day before a little wrist counter would give them an electric shock.  God help me!

Jean McClellan and her daughter wear such a wrist counter...until the government realise that Jean has knowledge that they need so they give her back her voice.  As with all governments, nothing is ever as it seems and this was one of the things that raised my blood pressure rather than silencing the women.  We are all just puppets...

I was hoping to feel a sense of empowerment after reading Vox but it didn't quite deliver on that front for me.  Having said that, it's a very good story and I enjoyed it immensely; I can totally see this being a serialisation on TV and I would be on the edge of my seat along with the other viewers.

Vox is compelling reading and a definite thought provoking page-turner.  I think it is a book I will need to read again to fully experience the drama and delve further into the topics contained within.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon