Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 – My Year in Books

I don’t know if it’s just me, but 2014 has gone super quick! This time last year, I was getting ready to party in Manchester and things have gone so fast and New Year’s Eve has come round again. This year I'll sadly be working but I'm very excited some great reads coming in 2015. 

It’s been a great year for books and I’ve been really lucky to review some great stories. 2014 has been a year of great book series. I’ve fallen in love with the Victorian espionage series India Black with a fabulously feisty female lead. I finished the dystopian Pure series by Julianna Baggott which blew me away and also the Tethers YA Trilogy by Jack Croxall. 

I recently started (and am loving) the excellent Reckoners series featuring superheroes and villains, The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer and my last book review of the year for the truly amazing Red Rising by Pierce Brown. 

This was the year that I got my Mum to do a few guest reviews as well which she really enjoyed so Mother Butterfly will definitely be appearing again in the future. This year saw me celebrate my second anniversary of book blogging and I hope I can continue to share books I like in 2015. I must admit that working a full time job has impacted majorly on being able to read and blog all the time, but with 50 book reviews, lots of extra posts and plenty more books read beside I think I’ve done ok! 

Goals for next year? Read more books. And more varied ones at that...but more about that later! Lots of end of year posts I have seen rate their top reads of the year, but as I enjoy all the books I review, this is a really hard decision to come to. I can genuinely say I don’t have a single solid favourite as many would compete for the top spot, so I’m hoping next year, maybe I’ll read a stand-alone title that will earn the status of Number 1! If anyone has a firm favourite book of the year that has not been featured here, I would love to know your recommendations to start off 2015 with an excellent reading list.

Thank you to every single person who has taken the time to read and comment on any of my posts. I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year and all the best for 2015! x x

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising has been on my radar for weeks but it was the final enthusiastic recommendation from Liz at Liz Loves Books that made me get Red Rising straight away! 

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of thousands of Reds who live beneath the surface of Mars. They are a proud people of dance and song who spend their lives mining the elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed, so that the rest of humanity can live there, following the decline of Earth. 

It seems like a necessary sacrifice until Darrow learns the truth about Mars and the people who have enslaved the Reds to suit their own needs, the god-like Golds. 

With the help of a rebel force, he infiltrates the Golds by disguising himself and entering their prestigious school system, with the end goal of destroying them from the inside. But the school is a battlefield and the tasks that he faces may kill him, before he can avenge his fellow Reds. 

Wow what can I say? As we enter the last few weeks of 2014, I think this has to be one of my favourite books of this year. The only downside is that I have to wait until January to find out what happens next! 

I think I liked it so much because mythology is one of my passions, so the intriguing use of mythological ideas woven into this action packed and original story really enchanted me. There are also elements of dystopia, science fiction and adventure which also sit highly on my reading agenda! Red Rising is violent and relentless with my twists and turns than you can shake an Ion stick at! 

Darrow is a great lead character and I warmed to him from the beginning. I loved the colour hierarchy and the symbolism of the sigils which are the stuff that literary tattoos are made of! As I neared the end, I both raced to find out the end but was also deeply sad to see that know it would soon be over, which is always the sign of a good book. 

It’s not just great characters and an exciting storyline that make this book, but a whole world has been built that is fascinating and also slightly chilling to read about. I’ve heard rumours that these books have been optioned for film adaptation which is great as this story would be amazing on the big screen. 

This is a wild ride of a book filled with action and excitement, and this astonishing debut that looks set for a very bright future.  

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Tower by Alessandro Gallenzi

I was drawn to this book as it was a little out of my comfort zone; with a historical figure I’m not too familiar with and the story exploring concepts such as digital technology which is not my forte! An ambitious project based in Amman, Jordan is aiming to digitalize the world’s written works. 

As part of the project, the unpublished works of 16th Century Italian genius and rebel philosopher Giordano Bruno are being studied. However the research is halted by death of a priest and the theft of the precious manuscripts and two experts are bought in and thrown together to unravel an age-old secret that has severe consequences for the modern day. 

Not being familiar with the life and works of Giordano Bruno, I really enjoyed how the story delves into the past and explores his life and how his works and ideas became both prized and reviled. The two main characters (in the modern day parts) I found very hard to feel for and to me, they were just a means as to unravelling the ultimate mystery. The other characters around them I felt were very well depicted and ultimately served a similar purpose which glued the story together. 

The idea about digitalising all written words works was a fascinating one, and I have no idea if this is an actual occurrence or an educated glimpse into the future. The way the big corporation that have taken on the mammoth digitalization task and the various roles within their hierarchy were depicted within the tale seemed quite realistic to me and it was a great frame with which to underpin the rest of the novel. 

Overall I found the prose to be fairly slow paced, when usually these kinds of novels are all fast action and quick thinking, but I believe the slower, more refined way the scenes played out much better suited this story in my opinion, making it a more sophisticated and thoughtful mystery than  others of this kind. 

I’m not going to profess to understand everything in this book, as some of the religious parts were a little hard for me to follow at times, but the mix of religion, history and philosophy teamed with meticulous research and modern writing made this a story I had to see through to the end. 

The Tower is a cleverly crafted mystery novel with a slow built intrigue that will keep you turning pages to a satisfying ending. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson

I don’t normally do reviews for novellas (in fact I think this might be my first one) but for this I was happy to be able to wax lyrical about The Reckoners series all over again. 

In the first book, Steelheart, a young boy witnessed the death of his father at the hands of a superhuman dictator (an Epic) and grows up aspiring to join The Reckoners; an underground group of ordinary humans who rebel against the Epics and work out ways to assassinate them. 

I loved the world that Sanderson created, where an unclassified event known as Calamity caused some of the population to develop superpowers, which then corrupted them making them the enemies of humankind. So often, when a story involves superpowers, it is always about the greater good (I’m thinking of Superman here, my least favourite of all superheroes!), so I liked how Steelheart turned this concept around. All the individual powers and weaknesses of the Epics were also incredibly interesting. But enough about Steelheart, for the full review check out the link! 

Mitosis is a bridging novella between Steelheart and the second book, Firefight which is due out in the New Year. It tells a little of the aftermath following events from book 1 and The Reckoners come across a new dangerous Epic who can split himself into numerous clones of himself. Cue chaos on a city-wide scale that has the team puzzling over how to defeat their newest foe. There are also the first few chapters of the next book which is a great sneak peek of what is to come! 

The main character in these books, David, is so lovable and really puts what is already an original story onto a level where you genuinely care. He’s so eager and honest and he is on a constant quest to find the perfect metaphor for different things that happen, but they always come out a little bit wrong, which added plenty of quirkiness to the tale. 

Well drawn characters, buckets of action and so much fun, this is a brilliant start to a series and I seriously can’t wait for more!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

India Black and The Shadows of Anarchy by Carol K. Carr

I’m always genuinely happy to see an India Black book on my TBR pile. I’m so in love with this series and when I feel like I’m a bit of a reading slump, I know a dalliance with India Black will cheer me right up! 

For any IB virgins, the series starts when Madam of Lotus House, India Black ends up helping agents of the British government in top secret state affairs. She is thrown together with dashing agent French, and with the help of her trusted street urchin Vincent, she becomes the self titled Madam of Espionage, using her womanly wiles and natural intelligence against enemies of Britain. 

After her successes, she finds herself called upon more often by the Prime Minister to assist in other such dangerous missions, so even if you haven’t read any of the novels before, they are perfect as standalone books. 

In this third escapade, India’s latest job is to infiltrate an anarchist cell, following the brutal assassinations of English aristocrats and politicians. It seems there is political unrest ongoing with Russian, but also unease amongst the foreign community living (not always legally) in London. Infiltrating the group is seemingly the easy part, as India must negotiate terrorist plots, personal attacks and her own secret identity in a mission that threatens her life of numerous occasions. 

This book, as well as the others, is so full of India’s sharp witted and charming personality. As well as her espionage, she is still very much a Madam and we are never too far from the day-to-day life at the popular Lotus House. Her love-hate relationship with French also heats up as she finds out more about his life; some things more than she probably bargained for. Their banter is brilliant and each retort is matched almost as well as their fencing! 

Set in the Victorian era (probably should have mentioned that before) the history of the time is well brought to life; from the descriptions of Victorian life, the splits in society between rich and poor, and the troubles of the time both politically and criminally. 

These books have all the things I enjoy in literature; a kick-ass heroine, intelligent prose, rich historical detail and oodles of action! If you have read any India Black novels, I want to hear your thoughts! If you have yet to pick up an India Black book and you like any of the aforementioned things, then you are seriously missing out!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

Back in October, I sped though the first book in The Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation, where the arcane landscape known as Area X is introduced. Publicly described as an environmental disaster, but with more secrets than are known, Area X is cordoned off by the military and a clandestine organisation deploys parties of experts over the fated border to try and unravel the mysteries of Area X. 

The first book details the most recent expedition and the four varying experts in differing fields that are sent on a fact-finding mission that previous participants rarely survive. 

In the second book, we delve further into the inner workings of The Southern Reach, the shady government agency tasked with investigating and containing Area X and its encroaching invisible border. 

Put in charge of this seemingly impossible endeavour is John Rodriguez, aka Control, who has been appointed the new director after the disappearance of his predecessor. Given orders by a higher authority, known only as The Voice, he must wade through the tons of information compiled from previous expeditions, including the latest one to try and make sense of Area X and its secrets, which is a much more complex and dangerous task than he ever could have imagined. 

I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this book, compared to the first offering. I didn't really warm to Control’s character and it didn't seem to have the pace of the first novel. However, as Control delves deeper into the seemingly bottomless pit of data, as well as adjusting to a mixed bag of colleagues; the dramas that arise and secrets uncovered are compelling and the thrill of the bigger mystery kept me reading. 

It was interesting to see the book from the agency’s view and learn how The Southern Reach’s actions, both as an organisation and as individuals affected Area X. The last third of the book gets especially gripping as things start coming to a head and the storyline moves forward much quicker and the ending definitely left me eagerly anticipating the last book. 

Filled with thrills and intrigue, as well as science and intelligence, Authority is a great bridge to the last instalment and I have no idea as to what is coming next, but am extremely excited to find out!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

My mum is a huge fan of the hit cult supernatural Rivers of London series (she's got every one!) and when I was given the chance to review Foxglove Summer she was the one to jump at it! So in her second guest review on my blog, here are Mother Butterfly's thoughts on Mr A's latest offering!

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch is the fifth book in his Peter Grant series. For those who have read the first four, I think you will enjoy this one just as much as the others. For anyone who hasn’t tried this series – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!

For all you fantasy, magic and weird creature fans this series is a must. These books are exciting, funny and have you reaching out to turn the next page. Foxglove Summer takes Peter out of London and into Leominster (in Herefordshire) and the surrounding villages, looking into missing children case. 

We meet up with some regular characters again like Nightingale and Beverly but we also meet some new and interesting ones. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil it for you but even more lines between the real world and the magical world are blurred giving us (and Peter) a glimpse of what is behind the veil.

Peter finds out a bit more about the weird and wonderful Molly, housekeeper at the Folly, and he even gets a bit of romance going on – we’ll have to watch this to see if it continues on the next book. It’s about time he had some luck in this department isn’t it! He works with the local constabulary in Leominster to find the missing children but of course this being Peter Grant, things are not as straight forward as a normal police case would be.

Ben Aaronovitch also gives us a look into the world of police investigations which is very interesting and as he makes the effort to do his research, probably quite accurate. He makes the characters in his books so real (yes, even the weird ones!) and you find yourself either liking or disliking them as you get to know them better.

All in all, I can’t wait for the next book to be released – so Ben...write quicker please!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

N0S4R2 by Joe Hill

I couldn’t wait to get hold of this book, I had been hearing so much about it. Joe Hill is in the public eye right now for the recent film adaptation of his novel Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe, however it is the brilliantly named N0S4R2 is the one that I hope will make it to the big screen! 

The name comes from the number plate of a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith driven by the terrible Charlie Manx. For decades, Charlie Manx has been stealing children to take back to his inscape world of Christmasland where he turns them into his ghostly, murderous little vampire kids who are just as insane as he is. 

Only one child escaped his clutches, and that was young rebel Victoria McQueen. Victoria has a gift for finding lost things; when riding her bike, all she needs to do is ride it across The Shorter Way Bridge and she will come out wherever she needs to be. 

She finds Christmasland by accident and escapes him. But that is not the last she will see of old Charlie. As an adult, plagued by mental health problems and addiction, her own son is taken by Manx and she sets out on a bloody journey to get him back. 

Charlie Manx is one of the most sinister and terrifying villains I have come across. Linked to his deadly car, his self-righteous quest to supposedly rescue children and give them an eternity of fun is scary yet compelling. The ideas in the book around inscapes and even the exploration of mental health are all so cleverly composed. 

Even though she is a bit of a brat, I warmed to Vic’s character straight away, even more so once she had made her own little family. Every character in this book; the good, the bad and the ugly are all so well illustrated and have their part to play. The world of the creepy Christmasland was fabulously conceived. 

This book is not for the faint-hearted. There’s sexual abuse, extreme violence and kidnapping to say the least, but in the context of the storyline, it adds to the horror and drama. I got genuinely unnerved reading this and should a Rolls-Royce Wraith ever drive past me, I will definitely look twice! 

This is an extraordinary tale of epic proportions and unlike anything I have read before, which definitely makes me more excited to read more from the acclaimed author. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

Sisters of Treason is the stunning follow-up to the critically acclaimed Queen’s Gambit, which I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year.

It focuses on two little-known sisters from the Tudor period, who found themselves embroiled in the succession to the throne. The story starts with the execution of Lady Jane Grey, the young “Nine Day Queen.” 

From there we slowly meet the two sisters left behind. Flighty, romantic Katherine, a young beauty at court and her younger sister Mary; small, shy and misshapen but with a sharp intelligence that is masked by her affliction. 

There is also their family friend, the court artist Levina Teerlinc, who helped their mother through her eldest daughter’s cruel punishment and has vowed to watch over girls. The sisters’ story interlinks with the reign of both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and highlights the dangers faced at court with the changeability of the fierce Queens. 

All the main players are so wonderfully portrayed and I really felt a connection to the sisters as they take it in turns to share more of their story. Their polar opposite personalities complement each other and Levina’s parts, filled with art and emotion add colour to an already riveting tale. 

Elizabeth Fremantle completely immerses you in the world of court; where sharp tongues and whispered scandals are more dangerous than any knife or gun. I really couldn't imagine being part of court where everyone is vying for the Queen’s approval and you’re life is barely your own as there is so much hierarchy, religion and bloodlines dictate so much in this gilded environment. 

This book explores themes that I have such an interest in; namely women and power and women defying convention in an age where such actions could have you killed. Beneath the thrills and fripperies of court life, in this fickle period of history there was such real danger and risk in going against the monarchy, in expressing religious beliefs and even in marrying for love, and all of these elements were wonderfully worked into the sisters’ tales making it so compelling and engaging to read. That these characters are rooted in truth is even more personal. 

The book ends with historical facts about the some main characters and I am really inspired to do some extra reading to learn more about these fated sisters.

Sisters of Treason is a fantastically rich and passionate story of sisterhood, love and politics in a truly turbulent time in history. I really hope there is more to come from Elizabeth Fremantle, continuing the passage of time and events following the Tudor reign in her stunning historical saga. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher

It’s been more than a year since my last trip to Golgotha in the fantastic debut The Six-Gun Tarot and now the fated town is back in this smashing sequel. 

It’s the year 1870 and Golgotha, a crazy western town in the deadly 40-Mile desert is no stranger to odd occurrences. Think Sunnydale being the convergence of the hell mouth in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but set in the Wild West! 

Young hero Jim Negrey has settled into his role as deputy helping Sheriff Jon Highfather (the sheriff who can’t be killed) protect the town from villains and the occasional supernatural threat. But nothing can prepare them for what is on its way. 

A cursed skull, a tainted relic from the humanity’s first murderer has had its teeth scattered across the globe. The recipients of the teeth are the most depraved killers and madman society has to offer, and they are answering an ancient evil that is drawing them to Golgotha. Throw into that mix two fallen angels, a pirate Queen and a mad scientist who believes he has found the cure to immortality and you know you’re in for a bumpy ride. 

There are so many characters and so many things happening, but all the madcap elements are skilfully woven together in a wordy tapestry of awesomeness. Even with such a high number of characters, each one is so well described and especially the ones continued from the first book, you do get quite attached to them and care what happens to them in face of such sheer adversity.  

As well as the wicked storylines and dabbles with supernatural creatures and mythology, there is also a lot of philosophical reflection about religion and humanity that is so cleverly mixed in to the story giving it extra depth alongside the action, without being pretentious or unnecessary.  

This book has so much going for it. Like its prequel, it is so much fun and jam-packed with crazy characters, menacing monsters, epic fights and plenty more besides. There is something for everyone and I sincerely hope there are more tales to come out of Golgotha in the near future!

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

I’d like to start with a warning for this book. This left me with a bad book hangover! I read it in less than two days and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It all starts with two teenage sisters, Rose and Connie Doughty who find an abandoned baby near their home on the small island of Scribbly Gum. 

It’s one of Australia’s most popular mysteries; the strange disappearance of Alice and Jack Munro who seemingly vanished in thin air leaving their newborn baby daughter behind. Seventy years later, the “Munro Baby Mystery” is still bringing fame and fortune to the island, where the Doughty sisters, baby Enigma (now an elderly lady) and their relatives still live. 

When Connie passes and leaves her beautiful house to someone outside of the family, Roses ponders how long she can keep the island’s secrets alive, especially with everyone else having their own theories on the mystery. With changes to the family dynamic with Connie’s death, the secrets that hold their family together begin to unravel with many more unknown untold truths uncovered as well. 

You get intimate glimpses of each of the family members’ lives and they all have their own day-to-day deceptions, as well their family secret that not all are privy to. All the characters are so well painted and with the island being so small, you feel like you know all of them personally. The older ladies were brilliant; there is something about getting old that you reach a point where you just don’t care what people think of you any more. 

I loved the idea of the Baby Mystery, with the island being open to tours and their annual celebration, and the almost celebrity family spreading their roots on the site of their fame. With each chapter there seems to be more questions raised and more mysteries to uncover  and so it pushes you through and makes you eager for more. 

This was something of a holiday read for me, especially with the stunning island setting that I grew quite attached to. So when I came to the end, it was like having to pack up my imagination and go home. Holiday book blues without even leaving the house! When a book stays with you like that, you know it must be good!

Great characters, brilliant storyline and incredible mysteries; The Last Anniversary is a fabulous read about family and the secrets that bind them together. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Torn by Jack Croxall

Torn is the third book in the Tethers Trilogy and I’m so glad to find out how it all ends! This is the sort of trilogy where you end up feeling so close to the characters that you just root for them all the way through and it makes you want to see it all the way through!

Tethers introduce the characters and sets up the journey. Unwoven hypes up the adventure and is where lots of the action takes place. Torn is where mysteries are unravelled, starting at sea with our heroes, Esther and Karl making their way to a dark, foreboding Scotland. But they are not the only ones.

A vicious Captain and his broken, dangerous sidekick are in close pursuit. Both parties are on their way to find the villainous Dufor, whose horrific goal for the extraordinary stones and the mysterious machine is revealed.

I liked that there was a kind of pirate element to the start of the book. Pirates are cool and it gave a new level of excitement to the story, although the action quickly moves more land based, and sees plenty of sword fights and even zombie like people involved in the battle, which was quite unexpected.

For me, there was so much action in this third book that although Karl and Esther do repair the damage to their relationship, there was less interaction between all the characters to show this. Everything happens kind of quickly, which is good in a way, as you get to find out what happens much quicker, but I think I would have preferred it to be a bit longer to really explore the characters emotions, as the two previous books did.

Esther is still my favourite character as she has been all along; a brave butt-kicking heroine perfect for this YA adventure. Torn is a thrilling ending to what has been an overall exciting escapade and the Tethers trilogy is a fab addition to any reader’s YA collection. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Top Five Scary Reads

The imagination is a wonderful thing, and in horror terms, is the perfect tool for spine tingling scares. A well-worded scary story can be enough to give you shivers, bring you out in goosebumps and have you turning on all the lights in the house. Below is a countdown of my top five scary reads that I wholeheartedly recommend for reading alone, in the dark for brave bookworm thrills!

5. The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft

I was introduced to the original story in the inspired anthology Shadows over Innsmouth. It tells of the strange coastal town of Innsmouth that hides a supernatural secret in the form of its fishy inhabitants. Late night creeping and otherworldly creatures coming out the sea are the focus of this atmospheric tale that gave birth to Cthulhu mythology.

4. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
Yes, you read that correctly. The man that gave us Game of Thrones also wrote a creepy vampire tale set in New Orleans. A steamboat on the Missisippi river is the venue for vampires versus hunters after a spate of murders become attributed to the bloodsucking creatures. Bloody, eerie and dark, this is a tale to satisfy any vampire fan.

3. Banquet for the Damned by Adam Nevill 

In Scotland’s oldest University town, a professor that claims to commune with spirits plays with a power far beyond his means. With hauntings in the night and sinister disappearances, this occult thriller genuinely gave me nightmares. I was at University at the time and got way too engrossed, but that’s not to say that the moody setting and dark mix of ghosts and witchcraft didn’t play their wicked part!

2. The Beast House Trilogy by Richard Laymon
Richard Laymon is a master of horror for me and I have been scared by many of his books but this one really got to me. This saga tells of a horrendous creature whose legacy lives through its monstrous acts and its hybrid offspring. This bloody, disturbing book had me dreaming of monster sex and seeing grotesque faces in the dark. Horrifically brilliant this is an epic tale for hardcore horror readers.

1. The Rats by James Herbert 

This is my ultimate scary read. I’m not the biggest fan of rats anyway but the cleverly crafted storyline of The Rats genuinely terrified me. Written in 1974, this book has scared generations, with its simple premise and graphic depictions of giant rat attacks. Gory and creepy, this book takes a seemingly ordinary creature and gives it a horrifying thirst for blood.

So there you have it. Five books that thrilled and scared me and ones that I will never read alone again. Did of any of these have the same effect on you? Or have you read something else so scary it left you wanting to sleep with the lights on? A good scary novel can stay with you for years so I would love to hear more experiences of books that go bump in the night!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

I've had human heroes and heroines, gifted military soldiers and gadget-laden vigilantes grace some of my blog posts but never full blown superheroes... until now! However Steelheart puts a twist on the standard superhero theme.  

An unforeseen phenomenon known as Calamity came and gave some ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. You would think that would be a good thing, but with these powers, the newly named Epics raised themselves above mere humans and created a society built on dominance and the desire to be all powerful. At the top of this supernatural hierarchy is the seemingly invincible Epic named Steelheart. 

When the Epics first appeared, young David witnessed his father’s murder at the hands of the tyrant Steelheart. Now, ten years later, he joins a covert force of rebels known as the Reckoners, who work out the Epics’ weaknesses in order to assassinate them. David has his eyes set on Steelheart, but how do you kill a superhuman being that appears to have no downfalls? 

This was such a thrilling read for me. I loved the whole premise of the humans and the Epics, where in most stories; those that are gifted often fight for the side of good. This idea was turned on its head which I loved. I kind of liken it to a cross between X-Men and Watchmen, although if anyone has a better comparison, please let me know! 

David was a loveable lead character, funny and so full of heart; I really warmed to him from the beginning which made the story all the more powerful. The way they author describes each Epic, and their unique power and weakness was so fascinating; it would be great if there was a spin off book in the style of David’s meticulous notes detailing each Epic and their information! I also think this would make an awesome TV series or film with lots of scope for special effects and compelling storyline! 

With these sorts of stories, I always think solid world-building is important. In Steelheart, the way the new civilisation with the dawn of Epics is depicted incredibly well. There is lots of unique imagery such as the steel city which is a great setting for all the characters to experience their trials and tribulations. 

There is plenty of cleverly crafted humour and also buckets of action which together made a fun and exciting novel. It's easy to see why this is an international bestseller. I raced through this book and I can’t wait for the next instalment. Steelheart is an action packed and fun novel that is definitely a must read for superhero, action and sci-fi fans! 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I was very lucky to win a copy of all the books in The Southern Reach Trilogy. Jeff VanderMeer is not an author I have come across before and there was a bit of a buzz about these stories, so I entered a Twitter competition and won! 

I put off reading them for a time as other books were grabbing my attention but recently decided to start them, not really knowing what to expect. Well, from the moment I started I was hooked. Hooked is probably an understatement actually! 

For a number of years, an abundance of wilderness where a supposed environmental disaster occurred known as Area X has been monitored by a secret agency known as the Southern Reach. 

What lies over the border of Area X is mostly unknown and of eleven expeditions that have been sent in to investigate, not everyone comes back alive. Those that do return are never the same again. 

Annihilation is the first in the trilogy, and is the story of the twelfth expedition. It is the journal of a nameless biologist; one of four brave, intelligent souls who have volunteered to enter Area X to hopefully bring back intel of the mysterious Area X. The more the team uncovers about the fated area, the more dangers they face, from each other and from the unknown. 

Told in the form of the biologist’s journal, it’s a brilliant combination of reading a personal diary crossed with secret government documents. The story slowly builds and you experience Area X as the expedition party does. You are exposed to half truths as they are and more mysteries present themselves, than questions are answered...I loved it! 

At times it was genuinely chilling and so cleverly described I even had gasp-out-loud moments! I devoured this in one night, I literally couldn’t out it down, I had to see it through to the end, almost as if the elusive Area X might cease to exist if I didn’t! It’s quite hard to pinpoint a genre for this book; sci-fi, horror, mystery, thriller or all of the above. 

Please read the book and let me know your thoughts. This was like nothing I have ever read before and I feel excited and privileged to already have books 2 and 3 ready to read. Ridiculously compelling and hugely original, The Southern Reach Trilogy is something to be very excited about!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Spare Brides by Adele Parks

My fascination with the roaring twenties continues this week with my thoughts on Spare Brides by Adele Parks. I was a bit late to the party in discovering Adele Parks, but after meeting her last year at the first Glamour book club, I quickly played catch up and have found for myself what a brilliant author she is. When I heard she had written a hist-fic novel, it was on the top of my shopping list! 

Spare Brides is the intertwined stories of four very different women in the aftermath of World War One. Sarah sadly lost her husband in the war and was left with her two children as well as the care of a disabled brother, while her sister Beatrice has the lonely loss of never having had a man to love in the first place. 

Their friend Lydia seemingly has it all with a secure status in society and a husband whose desk job kept him safe, although this is an unrelenting source of shame for her. 

And then there is the beautiful Ava; single by choice, with new family money to keep in her fashion, champagne and male attention to her heart’s content, even if she does have bigger plans to save the world, one woman at a time. 

I loved each and every story line in this book; each character illustrates a different facet of the war and it was so fascinating to see how each of their individual situations also affected each other. In a time of such dramatic social change, I loved the themes that the novel explored, including women in the workplace, marriage and adultery, high society and post-war poverty. 

As well as the absorbing historical and social subtexts, there is plenty of drama and romance. The lavishness of the society that the women are stationed in is lusciously described; from the stately homes and swanky nightclubs, to the glittering fashions and exclusive soirées. 

I cwouldn'teven choose a favourite of the women; each of them had a characteristic that I was drawn to and I cared for all of them. Every character was well written and played their part in the novel as whole. Good strong characters, with interesting stories to tell in a fascinating and changeable period in time, really made this a fantastic read for me. I was addicted to this stunning read and I hope that there is more in the way of historical fiction to come from the fabulous Adele Parks. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann

I was so excited to read this book, as the premise is set in the twenties, but with a twist! A lover of almost all periods of history, but the twenties is one that I find particularly fascinating. Especially after reading Flappers last year, I seem to be veering towards more stories set in this time of social change. 

Ghosts of Manhattan is set in a steampunk version of 20s America. Jazz and parties entertain the upper class, but the city is ruled by a seedy underworld of suited gangsters. 

Detective Donovan is tired and under pressure. In a town where crime seems to triumph over justice, his workload is increased when a series of gruesome murders of seemingly upstanding citizens start taking place. And to add to his problems, there is the elusive, red-eyed vigilante on the loose, known as The Ghost. 

It seems like it falls to honest, law-abiding men like Donovan to protect the city, so that people like the wealthy playboy Gabriel Cross can throw his lavish parties in peace. But as the the danger for Donovan escalates, it seems that who may have once been perceived as the enemy, may actually be the answer to the city’s problems. 

I really enjoyed how the story played out, from the different perspectives of the main characters; Donovan, The Ghost, Gabriel Cross and his glamorous squeeze Celeste; a jazz singer with a dark secret linked to her past. This novel was an interesting mix of many sorts of genres; steampunk, hist-fic, action, mythology and more. 

It kind of read like a comic book, and was reminiscent of Batman in Gotham City, or Watchmen, with the theme of vigilantism and heroes vs. villains. I think this would be excellent made for the screen, as even with all the different elements, it flowed and worked well together. 

For me, some parts were a little short. By that I mean I wanted more of a back story of each character, although this is just my personal taste. I really wanted to learn more about The Ghost and his motives, as well as more about Celeste and her past. We get snatches but I think I would have liked more elaboration. Maybe in future books this may be possible...hint hint! 

An exciting and original read for fans of any of the aforementioned genres, and I hope to read more Ghost adventures soon!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Two Year Blogoversary!

So it’s been two years since I created and first posted to Bookshelf Butterfly and since my one year anniversary post, I’ve had a rollercoaster of year!

I started a new full time job at the end of last September and found that the long days really affect my reading. On top of an active social life I have found it quite difficult at times to keep up with reading and regular posts. 

My passion for reading or blogging hasn’t ebbed and I try not to be too hard on myself if I’m behind on posts; I don’t want it to become like homework or a chore and I have to face the fact that sometimes life just gets in the way. 

However, once again I’ve been so lucky to review some fantastic books. I’ve had quite an obsession with historical fiction this year; I love history anyway and hist-fic is fast becoming a favourite genre! I’m still enjoying trying reads that I wouldn’t initially pick for myself and trying to be more adventurous with my book choices. 

I’ve continued to build good relationships with other bloggers, readers and people in the publishing industry which I am so grateful for and it makes the blogging and reviewing much more interesting and sociable. One thing I haven’t managed to do much of is attend bookish events such as launches, talks and literary festivals. There have been invites and opportunities but I’ve found it hard with the hours I work to make it. So one aim I have for the future is to try and attend more book events. If anyone knows of any let me know! 

As well as some great reads and plenty to say about them, I’ve also started expanding my Features page as an addition to all the reviews, and I hope to keep adding fresh things as I go along. I’m finding that as I expand my literary horizons, I’m even more vocal with friends and family about giving book recommendations which is lots of fun. My mother is also a voracious reader. We often swap books and have long and I even got her to write her own review for the blog under pen-name Mother Butterfly, which she really enjoyed. 

I think the blog is doing well although I’m always hoping for more comments and feedback. I have plenty of great conversations on social media and would love to transmit some of that onto the blog. So despite being crazy busy, I’ve had a good year of books and I know what areas I want to add to and things I want to achieve.

Once again I’d like to thank all the publishers who keep me updated with book news and review copies and for all the readers and bloggers who take the time to read my posts, make comments or even just say hi. I really do welcome contact with other bookworms and I would definitely like to hear from you to share the love of books and blogging!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

The bright arty cover drew me to Viper Wine, but it was the deliciousness within that kept me hooked! 

The court of Charles I is filled with rich and titled ladies, all vying to the most beautiful or most accomplished. They have come across a new beauty secret known as Viper Wine; a potent beauty potion distilled by a charismatic physician that claims to hold back the ageing process and promote stunning looks. 

Famed beauty Venetia Stanley has found that as her ages increases, her reputation as a beauty to behold also wanes and her self confidence takes a nose-dive. She already partakes in a number of beautifying rituals but they are not enough to satisfy her need to be the best. 

She falls under the spell of Viper Wine; keeping her daily drinks a secret from her husband, she becomes a rejuvenated beauty of old, much to the surprise of her friends and the rest of court. But as her addiction to the drink takes hold and her need for beauty consumes her, she takes her aspirations too far with devastating effects. 

As well as Venetia’s tale of pride, we also follow the story of her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby, whose alchemical experiments and forward thinking push him to expand the boundaries of his knowledge (and his library), even in the face of religious conflict and a society plagued by a crushing fear of the unknown. 

This book is set in the 1600s but with quotes and references spanning before and after this time. I smiled when I came across some David Bowie lyrics unassumingly quoted in part of the story and Kenelm’s visions of the future were cleverly worked in. 

As a couple, the Digbys are wondrous to read about. Venetia’s cause is understandable, if not condonable, and her character is glamorous, wily and headstrong and I loved her for it! I was a little bit in love with Kenelm; with his passion for science and learning, his seemingly limitless imagination and overflowing library and his true devotion to his wife. 

Based on real events, this story is wonderfully painted with the rich colours of the scandal-mongering court, the dirty hues of a secretive underworld of suspect beauty practices and the glittering brightness of an advanced future just around the corner. 

This book really had it all for me; history, love, intelligence, humour and scandal. It was sexy, witty and exquisitely described with memorable characters and intelligently crafted prose.  I really can’t praise this book enough; I think this is a new favourite of mine; having devoured it quicker than Venetia could down a vial of her Viper Wine and being left thirsty for more! 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Roald Dahl Books

“The success of a short story is simple, it must have a beginning, a middle and an end. The reader must never want to put it down.” – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a huge part of my childhood reading. My sister and I had most of his books, from his single stories, picture and rhyming books and even a short story anthology. There was something magic about his way of storytelling that was the perfect mix of entertainment and genuinely engaging storyline. And of course who could forget the iconic illustrations by Quentin Blake!

One winning formula that I loved with a lot of his stories was the wily nature of the hero of the tale who would use cunning and brains in quite a humorous way to overcome their situation. For example in George’s Marvellous Medicine, my favourite part was always when George mixes his most foulest mixture of medicine to administer to his awful grandmother. And in Fantastic Mr Fox when he pulls of his amazing heist is another classic moment. 

There is usually quite a clear division between the hero and the villain and some kind of comeuppance is dealt out in the funniest way possible. Roald Dahl’s books have given us some of the most memorable characters in children’s literature. Who could forget the zany Willy Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas? Or magic Matilda and her awesome powers? 

He has also given us some iconic story imagery such as the spectacular chocolate factory or James’ giant peach. It’s not even just great stories and characters, he also included lots of nonsense words into his world of tales that make it so much more fun and interesting (I won’t try and spell any here!) 

As well as growing up with the books, a lot of his stories have been turned into some amazing films. The BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and The Witches were the ones that truly enchanted me as a child but even now, movies are still being made and I could happily revisit the books over and over again.

If I had to pick a favourite (although that’s a hard decision to make) I would have to say that Danny the Champion of the World as I was captivated with the relationship Danny has with his father and the way they work together to exact their revenge on the nasty landowner. 

Imaginative, fun and still going strong, I think Roald Dahl’s books will live forever and I’m sure my own future children will love them as much as I did and still do! 

If you loved Roald Dahl books as a child or still do today I would love to hear from you! Favourites? Recommendations? Views on movie adaptations? Please feel free to comment, tweet or facebook your thoughts!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Never Saw It Coming by Linwood Barclay

Crime fiction is a staple in my household. I’ve grown up with all manner of crime writers on the shelves and so I’m not a stranger to one Mr Linwood Barclay. My mother bought this book ages ago and after recently rediscovering it, insisted I read it as soon as possible! 

With such praise as that, I find it hard to resist for too long! Keisha Ceylon in a phony psychic. She studies the news for stories of missing people, and then approaches the family with claims of visions and offers her services, with a hefty price tag attached. 

Her next target is a man whose wife has gone missing. Her disappearance is completely out of character and she has left behind her doting husband and pregnant daughter. 

After seeing his TV appeal, Keisha visits the man claiming she has had glimpses as to where his missing wife may be. As Keisha spins her yarn of supposed visions, what she has to say is a little too close to the truth which ends up putting her in grave danger.

I always love that with a Linwood Barclay novel there is always a well-written interesting storyline that you race to see how it plays out. There are no gimmicks, no glaring obvious red herrings or plots so twisted you end up dizzy. Just simple yet clever writing with substantial characters, all of which have a part to play, and solid storylines that keep you engaged. 

I loved the idea of the con artist psychic having her so call gifts finally pay off but in the wrong way. Karma in its deadliest form. You would think Keisha would be the villain of the piece straight away, but as you uncover her story and as she uncovers a darker story that could get her killed, you end up kind of rooting for her as there are even worse people than she in the world. 

An interesting subject choice that is thrilling from the word go, Never Saw It Coming is an exciting and satisfying crime read from a talented storyteller. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

I love a foodie read. I enjoy cooking and there is something quite delectable about reading novels that feature food. This week, I already explored the Catalan region of Spain when I read the novel Vanilla Salt and went on to try my hand at Catalan cooking. 

In The Hundred Foot Journey, I was not bound to one area, but propelled from India to London, through Europe and into France in a spell of tasty reading goodness! 

This story tells of the Hassan Haji and his family who have a successful restaurant in their native India. When tragedy befalls them, the family uproots itself and begins a journey of self-discovery, eating their way across Europe until in a twist of fate, they settle in France. 

In an old mansion in a remote, picturesque village is where they not only decide to make their home, but also start an Indian restaurant. They do not bet on incurring the wrath of eminent chef Madame Mallory who is has her prestigious dining establishment just over the road from the where the Hajis are building their mini Indian empire. 

The Hajis and Madame Mallory go head to head, before another twist of fate sees budding chef Hassan crossing the hundred foot divide into her employ. Worlds away from his own culture, Hassan learns a new style of cooking and this is his story from young naive kitchen hand, to renowned chef and restaurateur. 

I loved the clash of cultures in this tale. The Hajis are a loud and proud family and they seem to attract attention, both good and bad wherever they go. There are tons of colourful characters and interweaving storylines that encompasses many themes including family, ambition, business, politics and of course food! 

The first half of the story is so descriptive in food terms, you could almost eat the book! I loved the contrast between colourful, spicy Indian, and the more chilled, refined palates of France. The descriptions of the food and settings are gloriously rich and make the story beautiful. 

I found when I first read a Richard C. Morais novel, Buddhaland Brooklyn, the story was also very descriptive, the prose was calming and the story life affirming and philosophical. The Hundred Foot Journey is life affirming and philosophical but in a riot of colours and cultures and vivid food imagery! 

A fantastic journey for any reader to be a part of, and with the movie adaptation starring Dame Helen Mirren out this month, it’s easy to see why this novel is set to be a big hit.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Catalan Curiosity – Vanilla Salt Inspiration

As well as being a heart-warming tale of love and life, Vanilla Salt is a mouthwatering tale of Catalan cuisine. The main characters have a huge passion for food, and as this novel is written by acclaimed chef Ada Parellada, the food passion that seeps through the pages is so strong you can almost taste in. Reading this book made me feel hungry a lot of the time, and Catalan food is not something I’ve really experienced before.

So this book inspired me to do a little research and get creative in the kitchen with an attempt to make some Catalan inspired dishes! At the back of Vanilla Salt is a handy glossary of the foods mentioned throughout the story so I used this as my starting point and let the good old internet fill in the rest!

For a main course I decided to attempt botifarra amb mongetes which is Catalan sausage with white beans. As much as I would have loved to have sourced authentic Catalan ingredients I decided to make this a bit last minute. For the botifarra, I ended up getting some chorizo-style pork sausages (which was about as Spanish as I could get.

I cooked pancetta in a pan of olive oil until it was brown and then added the sausages for about 5-10 minutes until they browned as well. I then removed the meat and used the remaining oil to fry up some white onions, garlic and parsley. 

After a few minutes I added a tin of white beans and cooked for about 10 minutes, being careful not to burn everything! I re-added the meat until it was cooked and it was then ready to serve! 

In addition to this, as a kind of side dish, I attempted sofregit, which should be a mixture of onions and tomatoes (and sometimes other veg) cooked in olive oil and reduced to a jammy consistency. This I did, minus the jammy consistency part, but it was still delicious.

I had also wanted to make escalivada, an appetizer made from strips aubergine and red peppers, but didn’t realise I had no red peppers until it was too late! So my supposed escalivada turned into olive-oil fried aubergine strips instead, which also went quite well with the main.

 Being a bit slap dash and last minute, my Catalan inspired meal actually turned out quite nice, full of simple ingredients, yet colourful and full of flavour. I had lots of fun in the kitchen (feeling a bit chefy with my multiple dishes going all at once) and enjoyed a meal that was something different.

I would definitely recommend Vanilla Salt to foodie fans and if anyone else has been inspired to try some Catalan cooking (or has any pointers for me!) I would really love to hear from you. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada

Food can be a great unifier and this is more than prevalent in Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada. Catalan chef Alex is an amazing chef who excels at producing beautiful Catalan dishes, but he struggles to hold down staff or attract customers due to his gruff mannerisms and often child-like tantrums. 

Enter enthusiastic Canadian and anonymous food blogger Annette, who with nowhere else to go, takes a job in Alex’s restaurant. Determined to make the best of things, as well as putting up with the rude Alex, she employs all her social media skills to come up with taster menus and adventurous ploys to entice new customers to the restaurant. 

As they get closer together, complications with love and business cause much upheaval for the foodie pair and through their endured hardships they also discover an unknown past in each other that threatens to catch up with them. 

I liked foodie books and the food described in the story is mouth-wateringly good. You really get a sense of the setting through the rich and colourful language and the zest for food which was truly pleasurable to read. The main characters have the main storylines, but I found it was the supporting characters that really made the heart of the story. 

There was a fair bit of sex which I was not expecting, and the story does explore some darker themes away from cuisine which added extra depth to the story. I particularly enjoyed how Annette was an encyclopaedia of food history knowledge and often imparted tasty morsels of food trivia. 

The book is written by a chef and that passion for food really shows in the storytelling. I can’t say I have experienced Catalan cooking before but this story has definitely made me want to expand my culinary horizons! Sensual, sensational and finger-licking good, Vanilla Salt is a wonderful tale of love and food and a journey for happiness.

Monday, 25 August 2014

I Can't Begin to Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I received a copy of this book to review. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but with barely a glance at the press release, I already had my judgements formed. A romance set in world war two, I thought. Or a family saga set on against the tides of the wartime era. It is a bit of both I suppose but so much more. 

It is 1940 and in Denmark, war has arrived and people are choosing their sides. Local landowner and Danish born Bror Eberstern opts for an easier existence by co-existing with the Germans that have pervaded the town. 

His British born wife Kay however finds his decision to be almost cowardly and cannot agree with him. After one favour for a close acquaintance, she finds herself sucked into a world of subterfuge and misdirection. 

She teams up with an undercover operative trained by British Intelligence to transmit messages and transport forbidden items as part of a growing resistance against Hitler and his men. The deeper she gets, the more risks she takes and she finds that the dangers not only threaten her, but her whole family and the peaceful lives they once had.

As well as the action in Denmark, we are also privy to the lives of women who were tasked with receiving the coded messages and the clever minds that unscrambled the information. I loved how the story flitted from Denmark to London, with every character playing their risky role in the war effort. I found the coding and intelligence processes incredibly fascinating, and teamed with the personal lives of the workers, I couldn't put the book down. 

When I learnt about World War Two at school, or when reading fiction set in this time, I've never really heard much about what happened in Denmark, so I really enjoyed being able to learn more about the part that the Danish people played in this incredible slice of history. 

The characters are so well portrayed and you genuinely care what happens to them. The ordeals they face are written like a tense movie script; you can visualise each scene as if it were written for TV and you are almost on the edge of your seat when danger arises. 

I found I Can’t Begin to Tell You incredibly engrossing; full of secrets, twists and turns as well as love and family and the bonds forged and broken by war. A truly gripping read; heartfelt and intelligent, steeped in history and skilfully worded.   

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

Every now and again, my social media and bookworm feeds go crazy for a particular book. The book not only gets glowing reviews but such relentless hype, that it becomes a necessity that I investigate further. 

When it comes to books, I like to do my own thing and not necessarily follow the crowd, but at the same time I hate the idea of missing out on the next big read. It happened with Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn early last year, and then a little later I jumped on The Humans by Matt Haig bandwagon. 

Whether it’s the work of an amazing publicist, the merit of the story itself or a winning combination of both, sometimes a book can infiltrate your world to the point where not seeing what the fuss is about is just plain rude! 

The Lemon Grove is one such book that I hadn't really thought of to read, but with relentless shout outs and mentions, I couldn't take any more and got myself a copy. Jenn and her husband Greg have travelled to Deia, Mallorca, where they go every summer to get away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. But this year things are different. Jenn’s teenage step-daughter Emma is coming and she brings her boyfriend Nathan with her. 

At first Jenn takes him for a sullen, brooding teenage, but as Nathan is introduced properly into their little holiday bubble, she finds herself at close quarters with dark and desirable young man. With tensions running between herself and her husband and at almost constant odds with Emma, Jenn is drawn to the mysterious man that promises youth and reckless abandon. 

The familiar equilibrium of their family holiday is shattered, as Jenn struggles between the new dark feelings towards Nathan and old feelings of inadequacy of a husband stuck in his ways and a step-daughter who will never truly be hers. The Lemon Grove was a truly unexpected delight for me and I was quite surprised in the direction the storyline took. 

Helen Walsh doesn’t shy away from controversial subjects. The forbidden passions as well as the family strains are built up so subtly and intensely, that you become hooked. The Lemon Grove is wonderfully descriptive of the setting with simple characters facing intense issues. 

A sexy, slow sizzler of a story, The Lemon Grove is a great example of a summer read; a novel full of heat and intrigue, perfect for a beach chill out or warm evening thrill.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff

Back in April I reviewed The Enchantment Emporium. As a Tanya Huff fan I had been hugely excited at the time but was left slightly disappointed. I did like the book but there were parts that I did not like so at the time, gave a fairly mixed review. My mother read the book afterwards and absolutely loved it. 

So when I got the second book, she pretty much claimed it for her own. With a huge TBR pile and tons of reviews waiting to be written, I thought why not let an even bigger Tanya Huff fan than me have their say. Here is a review by my mum, hereby known as Mother Butterfly, on the second Gale family installment, The Wild Ways.

The Wild Ways is the second book by Tanya Huff in a series of witches based in Canada. It was a fun and at times very exciting read which I had been looking forward to reading having enjoyed the first book The Enchantment Emporium very much. Both books follow the very large Gale family; “The Aunties” being all powerful and their children and grandchildren slowly moving up the ranks of power. We get to meet a leprechaun – who ends up becoming the toy boy of one of the aunties and also some dragons, goblins, selkies, a troll and some bogarts, who although we did meet some in the first book, also play their part in this second adventure. Whereas the first book concentrated mainly on Allie, this second book focuses on her cousin Charlie, who is able to travel from place to place using any wood or garden area by strumming her guitar. She is what the family call a “Wild Power” but really comes into her own in this book as she taken by surprise at her own growing powers. It reminded me a little of some of Kelley Armstrong’s books but somehow a bit more “grown up” (i.e. a bit more sex!). Anyone who enjoys fantasy books will probably already know of Tanya’s other books and should also enjoy this delve into the lives of this very special family, along with the various other supernatural beings they meet with during their adventures. I like the way Tanya introduces the characters to the reader and makes you care about what happens to them. To the outside world they appear to be just another family, working hard to make a living but of course anyone who is able to scratch the surface will discover how very different they are. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in this series and hope that she doesn't stop at just three!

So that was Mother Butterfly’s first official book review! If you have any thoughts on Tanya Huff books or any words of wisdom for Mother Butterfly’s future in book blogging, please feel free to get in touch! 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Here Lies Love by Dan Thompson

In Here Lies Love we are immersed into a world where the sun has died and an artificial blue haze is the atmosphere. Cities are desolate, dog-eat-dog habitats where if the wild winds don’t destroy you, crime or hardship will. 

It is in one such city that we are introduced to Abbey, who was sold by her father to a foul man who keeps Abbey and other young girls captive for his own perverse amusement. 

Forced to watch and endure abuse, Abbey faces tough odds and manages to escape her captor. However, despite all she endured in captivity, being alone in the unfamiliar world poses even more threats. 

By chance, she strikes up a friendship with two boys she meets, Tristan and Ryan, and lives with them for a time. As she adjusts to a freer existence and with developing feelings towards one of her new friends, she finds that her dark past and unknown future cause a battle within her that will set her on a drastic course of action to find peace and closure. 

I really liked the desolate world that Dan Thompson created for his characters. As mentioned in the afterword, it is reminiscent of Runners by Sharon Sant but much darker and exploring harsher issues, making clear the transition from YA (young adult) to NA (new adult). Although there is some explanation about the idea behind the dystopian setting in this book, I think I would have liked to have heard more about it in the actual storyline as it seemed like an interesting mystery in itself.

The story is very much character led, with a strong focus on Abbey, her feelings and actions as a consequence of her tumultuous thoughts. I did find Abbey as a lead quite hard to identify with as her thoughts and actions seemed chaotic and disjointed to me. Then again, with what she has to go through, it isn’t any wonder that her reactions and choices seem out of sync with ‘normal’ behaviour. I liked the involvement of the lads she meets; adding a fresher, light-hearted perspective to proceedings. 

This novel explores some tough themes so is definitely not for the faint hearted. It’s serious and at times a little bleak, but there is meaning and hope if you hold out for it. If you do like dystopian fiction and have a leaning towards the darker side of storytelling, then Here Lies Love is the book for you. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr

India Black is back and just a few weeks after her first dalliance in espionage with Russian spies (see India Black review for more details) she is off on another espionage mission in Scotland.

Queen Victoria is instructed at a séance to break from tradition and spend Christmas in Balmoral. The instruction comes from her departed husband Prince Albert and with a clandestine group known as the Sons of Arbroath making threats on her Majesty’s life the prime minister takes no risks with the suspicious command.

He enlists the help of London brothel owner India and his British agent named French (first name unknown). If you haven’t read the first book, all you need to know is that India Black is a ballsy and hilarious woman who finds herself helping the government, despite her sins and less than reputable profession. 

She is sent off to Scotland under the guise of housemaid to a crone of a marchioness who loves nothing more than to snort her body weight in snuff and proceed to sneeze over the nearest person without a care in the world. Installed in the grand castle for her Highness’s holidays, French and India try to ferret out possible members of the sons of Arbroath and any would-be assassins who might carry out the dastardly threats of the disgruntled Scots.

Her sarcastic and witty personality alongside French’s intelligent and quick character makes for great reading as they get closer with each mission and yet seemingly hate each other’s guts. As well as the sharp characters, the history of the time and the descriptions of Scotland come through wonderfully in the snappy prose and the whole story is a pleasure to read. 

I recently got back from a trip to Scotland and love the place, so having India’s next adventure set there was great for me. I’m a huge India Black fan and I seriously urge anyone who’s yet to read of her to pick up any of her tales and give her a try. The India Black series is fast paced, flirtatious fun and entertaining as hell!