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.