Friday, May 27, 2016

The Mother A Novel by Yvvette Edwards

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The Mother A Novel by Yvvette Edwards
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins/Amistad (May 10, 2016)
Source: TLC Book Tours/Publisher (digital-ARC)

From the critically acclaimed author of A Cupboard Full of Coats comes a provocative novel of a mother enduring the loss of her child, illuminating some of the most important and troubling issues of our time.

Marcia’s husband, Lloydie, expresses his tender love for his wife each morning by preparing a cup of tea and setting it by her bedside. This routine was part of the wonderful, secure life they had built, complete with a brilliant and handsome sixteen-year-old son, Ryan.

Then the unimaginable happens, and in a single moment Marcia is stripped clean of everything she had presumed was hers for keeps. Ryan, not the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife, is brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she is forced to carry the weight of the family’s pain. She has to assume the role of supporter for her inconsolable husband, who has distanced himself and created a secret life. She must also bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court alone for the trial of her son’s killer, Tyson, another teenage boy. As the trial takes apart her son’s life and reassembles it in front of strangers, Marcia, always certain of Ryan’s virtues, finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about her son’s death and of Tyson’s life.

The Mother is a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and of the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.

My Thoughts:
Marcia, 'The Mother', is forced to attend the trial of her son's killer without the support of her husband.
Lloydie, is devastated and unable to cope, or come to terms, with the death of his son. He withdraws evermore into his own solitary world, driving a wedge between him and his wife emotionally and physically.
Marcia, consumed by anger, resentment and the inability to share in each other's grief, slowly the gap between them widens and the rift in their relationship looks unrepairable.

As this heartbreaking story unfolds we learn a lot about each of the characters and their backgrounds, the comfortable lifestyle of Marcia and her family compared to that of the impoverished accused, Tyson Manley, and of Sweetie his alibi for the night of the killing.  I don't want to say much more about these two but boy did I feel for Sweetie. I really felt for Sweetie.

The Mother is a powerful tale about a mother's loss of her 17 year old son who, after football practice one evening, is stabbed to death. The events are narrated in the present tense through Marcia's voice which has an incredibly intense, raw quality. I instantly felt a connection with her and was compelled to listen to what she had to tell me. Marcia recalls banter between herself and Ryan that reminded me of the all too familiar dialogue I often have with my own teen son. It was these moments that brought these characters alive for me.

On another level this novel had a particular hold over me due to it's setting and subject matter. In 2014, my friends sister was stabbed to death on her way to work one morning, I couldn't help but feel devastated once again for my friend and family as well as for this fictionalised family in 'The Mother'.  Whilst the circumstances are not entirely the same there were enough similarities for the story to have an impact on me emotionally.  Both victims were of similar ethnic background, both lived in London, both were horrifically stabbed to death for the most senseless motives. I found it difficult to continue reading initially and gave up at the 20% mark. However I'm glad to say I did go back to it after a day or so.

Yvvette Edwards has written a truly powerful, heartbreaking story of loss, about poverty and the lack of help or support for those living in deprived areas, of the grieving process, inconsolable anger, the utter devastation caused by one solitary mindless act, and the traumatic road one must travel in order to be able to come to terms and and make sense of the world in which loved ones no longer have a place.

Authentic and 'real', with a beautiful cover I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of The Mother A Novel by Yvvette Edwards was provided by Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest unbiased review. Thank you TLC Book Tours for allowing me to take part in this tour.

About Yvette Edwards
Yvvette Edwards, the author of the highly praised A Cupboard Full of Coats, has lived in London all her life. She resides in the East End and is married with three daughters and a stepson. The Mother is her second novel.

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Photo by Danielle Acquah

Thursday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, May 19th: Tina Says…
Monday, May 23rd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Tuesday, May 24th: Queen of All She Reads
Friday, May 27th: SJ2B House Of Books
Monday, May 30th: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, May 31st: Kritters Ramblings
Thursday, June 2nd: Booksie’s Blog
Friday, June 3rd: From the TBR Pile
Saturday, June 11th: A Dream Within a Dream

Sunday, May 15, 2016


You can now download my nephew first novel for free. I think it's very good. Biased?"   Source: Jim Al-Khalili"

Update : Shekinah by Paul Beech is currently free to download for a limited time only !

Get your copy now here at AMAZON UK & AMAZON COM

Saturday, May 14, 2016

TLC BOOK TOURS : Alice In Bed by Judith Hooper

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Alice In Bed: A Novel by Judith Hooper
Hardcover: 325 pages
Publisher: Counterpoint (October 13, 2015)
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours


Arm yourself against my dawn, which may at any moment cast you and Harry into obscurity, Alice James writes her brother William in 1891. In Judith Hooper's magnificent novel, zingers such as this fly back and forth between the endlessly articulate and letter-writing Jameses, all of whom are geniuses at gossiping. And the James family did, in fact, know everyone intellectually important on both sides of the Atlantic, but by the time we meet her in 1889, Alice has been sidelined and is lying in bed in Leamington, England, after taking London by storm.

We don't know what's wrong with Alice. No one does, though her brothers have inventive theories, and the best of medical science offers no help. So, with Alice in bed, we travel to London and Paris, where the James children spent part of their unusual childhood. We sit with her around the James family's dinner table, as she - the youngest and the only girl - listens to the intellectual elite of Boston, missing nothing.

The book is accompanied by Hooper's Afterword,"What was Wrong with Alice?," an analysis of the varied psychological ills of the James family and Alice's own medical history.

My Thoughts:
Based on the diary of Alice James and correspondence between Alice and the rest of the James's family I found Judith Hooper's Alice In Bed to be an utterly fascinating and compelling novel.

We meet Alice, daughter of the famous author Henry James, in her late 30's during the latest bout of illness which has rendered her bedridden. Similar episodes of illness have plagued Alice since she was young and no one has been able to diagnose what is wrong with her. During this episode of incapacitation Alice reminisces about her life, friendships, family, and lovers, giving the reader a glimpse into the private lives of this often amusing, intelligent but ultimately tragic family.

I was particularly fascinated by Alice's relationships with her cousin Sara, and Katherine Loring with whom she formed intensely passionate affairs. The emotions and subsequent sexual encounters, particularly relating to the former friendship, were a revelation to Alice, but also confusing especially as the relationship was not on equal footing.

Alice comes across in Hooper's novel as a highly intelligent, quick witted, articulate young woman, who inside the family, is encouraged to participate in stimulating conversation and argument with her brothers and father on a multitude of topics. However outside of the family her spirited enthusiasm to engage fully in life's experiences is deemed unnatural, and inappropriate behaviour for a young lady.

There was so much that I enjoyed about the book; the prose was exquisite, and entirely in keeping with the period.  My reading copy is full of highlighted text, sentences and paragraphs of beautifully written descriptions of the conversations and acerbic quips between the members of the family. I spent hours looking up words in a dictionary and although I do recognise that this may be a drawback for some readers, I found it enlightening.

Alice In Bed is an intelligent thought provoking, cleverly imagined life of Alice James and one which I recommend unreservedly to anyone interested in American literature, and the lives of privileged women living during this era. It would be an ideal choice for book reading groups as I'm sure it would generate a lot of debate and interesting discussion.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Alice In Bed in exchange for my unbiased, honest review.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Forthcoming Reviews: Wolf Trial, Neil Mackay & Shekinah, Paul Beech

Reviews to come over the next few days are;

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The Wolf Trial: a novel by Neil Mackay, an intriguing and phenomenally good piece of fiction based on a 16th century serial killer which I rated at almost the perfect 5

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& Shekinah by Paul Beech, an exceptional debut offering to the teen/YA genre. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and looking forward to a follow-up. I gave it a big thumbs up with a 4 out of 5

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund
Publisher: Random House UK Vintage Publishing (14 April 2016)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Scandi-crime, Adult, Thriller
Pages: 768


The International Sensation
It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.
Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.
This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.
This is the world of the Crow Girl.

My Thoughts:
Now for a crime story which, unlike Fiona Barton's 'The Widow', definitely is not so simply told, or lacking in nasty scenes. This one contains a multitude of extremely violent scenes of torture, child abuse, child trafficking and murder so definitely NOT for everyone.

At over 750 pages this is a huge tome which I devoured in just a few days. Written in short easy to digest chapters I had no problem keeping track of who was who; who did what to who; etc., etc,. Not since reading Stieg Larsson's 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' have I been so enthusiastic about reading or recommending a Scandi/Nordic crime novel.

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund is a very dark, violent and intensely disturbing read with in-depth descriptions of suffering, abuse and rape, and a plethora of shocking scenes. This most certainly won't be a book for everyone, and definitely not for those upset by such scenes.

I am not going to say anymore about this one except that if you are not one of the above then 'just read it'.

Shamelessly twisted and at times sensationally over the top, The Crow Girl was for me a hugely enjoyable, addictive read.  Perfect for fans of, Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo, and David Lagercrantz.

Disclaimer: A complementary proof copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:
Erik Axl Sund is the pseudonym for 2 authors who have been friends and collaborators for years: Jerker Erikson and Håkan Axlander Sundquist.
Håkan was a sound engineer, musician and artist, while Jerker was a music producer and worked as a librarian in a prison. Both live in Sweden where they are now full-time writers, and also run an art gallery together.
Originally written as a trilogy before being re-worked for the English language markets The Crow Girl is their first book. The complete trilogy received the 'Special Award' from the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers in 2012, with the academy highlighting the trilogy's "hypnotically captivating psychoanalysis in crime fiction form."

The Widow by Fiona Barton

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The Widow by Fiona Barton
Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery & Suspense, General Fiction, Adult

Publisher: Random House UK, Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press (Jan, 2016)
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Pages: 320

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER. "The ultimate psychological thriller". (Lisa Gardner). We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs - the wife who stands by him? Jean Taylor's life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she'd ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she's alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows. Du Maurier's REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime. "My book of the year so far". (C. L. Taylor, author of THE LIE).

My Thoughts:
The Widow the debut offering from Fiona Barton is an 'easy-read' crime suspense thriller about the abduction of a little girl from her own front garden. Set in Hampshire, (United Kingdom) it also visits other locations such as Southampton, Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport during the course of the book. Originating from the Portsmouth area myself, I found it intriguing to read a novel set in and around places I know pretty well.

The sole narrative written in the first person is that of the widow, which sets her apart from the other characters giving her focus and a sense of alienation from everyone else.  The rest of the narratives are all in the third person and include that of, the detective, the reporter, the mother and the husband. They have their own space in the form of short individual chapters so there's no confusion of who's speaking or losing your place.

Told through these narratives in a shifting of time, back and forwards The Widow commences with the death of 'the husband' and during the course of the book the truth tantalisingly seeps out, but not without several nice twists and turns along the way. The tension held throughout and I didn't feel cheated by a 'meh' ending which I feared it might have, and even when the fate of the little girl is divulged I eagerly continued turning the pages as fast as I could to get the conclusion.

I am not sure if I was supposed to find any of the characters likeable or feel sympathetic toward them, but for me only 'the detective' had any real sense of humanity or likeable traits, but what I did do was find myself questioning the whole media and police detection processes and how the general public view victims and suspects and apportioning blame and guilt. The Widow certainly made me feel a little uncomfortable about certain areas of our lives, especially our relationships via social media.

I had only intended to do a quick skim of the pages for recommendation purposes at our bookstore but I couldn't stop reading it.  A pleasant surprise after hearing that it would be 'another', 'the next' 'The Girl on the Train' or 'Gone Girl', which it isn't. It's different apart from its simplicity of its narrative style. However it may well be the next 'The Girl on The Train' in terms of success, I have no doubt.

It is important to mention, due to the subject matter, that there are no graphic scenes of violence or abuse and safe for readers who are uncomfortable with such descriptions. The Widow is an entertaining thought provoking, compelling read which I highly recommended.

Disclaimer: A complementary copy of The Widow by Fiona Barton was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

In life I was a scientist called Fanning.
Then, in a jungle in Bolivia, I died.
I died, and then I was brought back to life... 
Prompted by a voice that lives in her blood, the fearsome warrior known as Alicia of Blades is drawn towards to one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York. Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and last of The Twelve. The one who must be destroyed if mankind is to have a future.
What she finds is not what she's expecting.
A journey into the past.
To find out how it all began.
And an opponent at once deadlier and more human than she could ever have imagined.
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Well this beauty came in today and I was determined to 'bagsy it' to be the first to read it, however, I was not the only one.  There are several of us that coveted this sole copy. I couldn't do it...deprive my co-workers of the chance to read a few lines during lunch breaks. So there it sits on the table in the staff room for us to take turns reading it...howl...

Justin Cronin's The City of Mirrors has to be the stores most anticipated book of the year.
Maybe another copy, or two, may find a way to us...we can only hope.

Thank you to Orion publishers for sending this much coveted proof copy to our store.

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Orion Publishing Group (16 June 2016)