Thursday, 22 June 2017

TLC Book Tours Review: White Fur by Jardine Libaire (30 May-22 June)

White Fur by Jardine Libaire
Publisher: Hogarth (30th May, 2017)
Pages: 320


Disclaimer: A copy of White Fur was provided by the Publisher via TLC Book Tours to give an honest review and to take part in the tour

I just love these cover images!
When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in public housing without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.
White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer.

Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.

My Thoughts
Set over the course of a year in 1986, 'White Fur'  follows in monthly instalments the highs and lows of the relationship between Elise Perez and Jamey Hyde.
Written in third person dual POV narratives I found it easy to read with short paragraphed chapters, easy to pick up and put down at any point. Not a format, I appreciate will suit everyone but then again there's a a lot about White Fur that isn't going to be to everyone liking.  More on that shortly.

Elise Perez comes from the poor housekeeping projects in New York City; doesn't know who her father is; doesn't attend school, and takes care of her half siblings while her mother shirks parental responsibilities to be with her abusive boyfriend. Elise makes a difficult decision to move out of the family home leaving her sisters in the care of her mother and boyfriend.

Jamie Hyde is a privileged rich kid attending Yale; shares a flat with his lifelong best friend and flatmate next to where Elise is now staying with a gay friend.
Jamey is rich and going places. He has class, breeding, is reserved and knows how to behave in polite company.
Elise has had a rough abusive life and lived the life of hard knocks. She is tough, a fighter, a force to be reckoned with, has no airs or graces. If someone's a dick she'll tell them they're a dick !

As a couple they're an odd mix, culturally and racially and have absolutely nothing in common, but there is a spark between them at their first meeting which continues to smoulder and flame. Their relationship is wild, explosive and sexually charged. She is wild, passionate and exhaustative sexually, a contrast to his previous inexperienced relationships.  He's never met anyone quite like Elise. She makes him feel special and that she will do anything for him whenever he wants her to. Jamey is obsessed with her but equally frustrated by his inability to ignore this attraction and seems to resent her for it.

As their relationship matures and they learn more about themselves and each other the frantic sex gives way to a deeper intensity of emotions and understanding but as friends and family become increasingly involved and determined to drive a wedge between them will they be able to remain steadfast.

By way of a warning a good first half of the story describes graphically detailed sex scenes. Some readers may have difficulty here with such explicit powerful imagery projected, however it gives a sense and perspective of the transition from impulsive lust to meaningful love that these young lovers experience. With short, sharp paragraphing the details are quickly absorbed into your head leaving sometimes rather uncomfortable indelible imprinted images.

Gritty, and raw White Fur touches on some sensitive subject matter such as child physical abuse, under aged sex (rape), drug addiction and mental health issues. A fair amount of humour is in evidence throughout making this a less dark depressing read.

This is most definitely NOT what I would call a fluffy romantic read, it is a coming-of-age character driven love story following two young lovers over the course of a year as their relationship matures. Think of it as a contemporary 'Romeo and Juliet' with explicit sexual content.  Overall, even though not a fan of the ending, I found it a compelling read and would definitely read more from this author.

About Jardine Libaire
Jardine Libaire is a graduate of Skidmore College and the University of Michigan MFA program, where she was a winner of the Hopwood Award. White Furis her second novel for adults. She lives in Austin, Texas.

TLC BOOK TOURS Schedule for Jardine Libaire's White Fur:

Tuesday, May 30th: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, May 31st: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, June 1st: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, June 2nd: Nightly Reading
Tuesday, June 6th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, June 12th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, June 13th: Life by Kristen
Wednesday, June 14th: I Brought A Book
Thursday, June 15th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, June 21st: SJ2B House of Books
Thursday, June 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Monday, June 26th: Books a la Mode
Friday, June 30th: Fuelled by Fiction

Sunday, 18 June 2017

TLC Book Tours Review: Among The Lesser Gods by Margo Catts (June 5th-29th)

Among The Lesser Gods by Margo Catts
Publisher: Arcade Publishing (May 9, 2017)
Pages: 336

Disclaimer: A free digital copy of 'Among The Lesser Gods' was provided in exchange for an honest review and to take part in this blog tour.
For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction.
“Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart.”

Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.
Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.
But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.
“If Anne Tyler turned her attention to the inter-generational intrigue of small town Colorado, it might look something like Margo Catts’s arresting debut. Drenched in lyrical language and blade’s edge observation with a heartbreaking secret at its core, Among the Lesser Gods is an essential American love story for our nomadic, unrooted times.” — Carrie La Seur, author of The Home Place

“I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Margo Catts is the perfect guide to Leadville and to life, with a sharp eye for everyday details, a pitch-perfect ear for conversation, a sympathetic heart for her characters’ travails, and a sure foot along their unpredictable paths. I’m so happy this book crossed my desk and will definitely be looking out for a second novel from Catts.” — Brigid Pasulka, author of The Sun and Other Stars

“Margo Catts’s compassionate observation of human nature shines through in her unforgettable characters, as she immerses the reader in lives that are torn by tragedy, challenged, and changed. This is a finely crafted and uplifting novel full of warmth, wisdom, and generosity of spirit.” — Judith Allnatt, author of The Silk Road

“I didn’t want the story to end, even as I was desperate to know what would happen next.” — Tiffany Quay Tyson, author of Three Rivers
“Margo Catts has a sharp eye for the intricacies of family, love, and tragedy. In luminous prose, she deftly explores the impact of the past upon our lives. This is a heartfelt book that will break your heart at times and at others fill you with joy.” — Daniel Robinson, author of After the Fire

My Thoughts
Among The Lesser Gods is Margo Catts' debut offering and set mainly in Leadville, Colorado during the late 1970's.

Elena Alvarez is running away from yet another mess and responsibility; she's somewhat a repeat offender in the field. Up to this point she has managed to get away without having to deal fully with the consequences her actions may have caused, however with this latest move, returning home to her small community mining town, she will have to face her current predicament, and revisit her troubled, tragically painful past.

Gently paced with a slow immersion into the characters lifestyles I did unfortunately find it a little too slow and difficult to get into. By the halfway mark I still didn't feel invested in any of the characters and decided not to read any further at this time. I'd so wanted to 'love' this book as the author has spent time living in the same middle eastern country that I had for several years. I felt a connection, alas though not a connection with these characters.

There were definitely elements that I love in a book, literary fiction well written with complex flawed characters, strained family dynamics, a ghost story mystery, and an air of menacing suspense, it just fell a tad flat on my initial attempt of reading.

In all honesty I don't believe its the book at fault. I have read several similar styled story-lines recently and do find that I become restless with the same, 'same old', if my reading material isn't varied. Maybe the timing was wrong and I'll revisit it again sometime. If I do I'll update my thoughts.

There are so many rave reviews for Among The Lesser Gods and I would encourage the reader to take these other reviews into account.

About Margo Catts
Margo Catts grew up in Los Angeles and has since lived in Utah, Indiana, and Colorado. After raising three children in the U.S., she and her husband moved to Saudi Arabia, where her Foreign Girl blog was well known in the expat community. Originally a freelance editor for textbooks and magazines, she has also done freelance writing for business, technical, and advertising clients, all the while working on her fiction. She is a contributing author to Once Upon an Expat. Among the Lesser Gods is her first novel. She now lives in Denver, Colorado.

Margo Catts's TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: Schedule Link

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Guest Reviewer SwiftLit: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Publisher: HarperCollins UK(Fourth Estate)
Pages: 336


I would like to introduce Scott my first guest reviewer on my blog. I have worked with Scott for over a year and have thoroughly enjoyed working with him during this time. Scott has however, decided to move on to other endeavours and even though I'll miss him, I wish him every success.  Fortunately he has agreed to be a guest reviewer for Jon McGregor's 'Reservoir 13' and here is his review.  

Scott's Thoughts:
When reading McGregor’s work you quickly become aware that you are reading something different. If you were feeling particularly adventurous you may even call it something new. His style is obviously beautiful yet often opaque and enigmatic.
Characters can be seemingly nondescript and yet we simultaneously feel we know everything we need to know about them. Reservoir 13 is McGregor’s best work so far.

Spanning 13 years this is an epic. And yet what takes up the major proportion of the novel are not events that are epic in scale but comparatively minuscule. The life cycle of a family of foxes as they go through breeding and birth, the migration and return of the swallows each summer. The guaranteed, uninterrupted presence of nature is a prevalent theme that is refreshing to read. This constant quality of nature is one of the few certainties we get throughout the book, with certainty being something the novel sometimes lacks.

It begins as most of McGregor’s fiction does; a traumatic event that leaves ripples in the surrounding society. We enter into the narrative believing it to be a missing person thriller. A girl holidaying with her parents has gone missing. McGregor keeps this missing person narrative sustained by little more than a spider's thread at times as it becomes clear this is a novel that instead takes the effects of time and dealing with grief as its central narrative concern. The goings-on of the village, its people and the natural world that surrounds it are what occupies Reservoir 13, amongst which are whispers and rumours of a missing girl - a glimpse at the narrative we first thought to be reading. It is a very neat trick that McGregor utilises to create an at times stunning novel.

I have always believed that Jon McGregor is a writer whose style most closely mimics the rhythms of everyday human thought and experience. If his previous works, to their credit, could be seen as attempts at creating a unique style, then Reservoir 13 is where the winning formula begins to shine through. For me, this novel not only confirms my prior views but brings McGregor’s work into an ever more exciting territory.

"My name is Scott and I am the creator of SwiftLit.  I have thought long and hard about what I want SwiftLit to represent and below are just a few points that have gone into forming the business so far:

1. I want to provide a subscription box that offers great literary fiction to everyone in an accessible way.
2. I want to communicate the passion I have for books with a wider group of readers.
3. I want to challenge people to read things they may not have considered picking up before.
4. I want to create a company that offers individuals the chance to connect over a passion for books and lively debate!

I'm sure in the evolution of this company many things will likely change, but the core points raised above are at the centre of SwiftLit's ethos and I hope to bring that into everything we do.
Everyone who follows is a potential future customer so the more people who see that the better."

Thank you Scott for being the first guest reviewer for SJ2B House of Books and for such a great insightful review.  It's certainly made me bump Reservoir 13 up on my reading list. I wish you every success with the SwiftLit Company.

You can find out more about SwiftLit by going to the company Instagram site here:

Hopefully this will be one of many more guest review posts.