#TopReads2018 | #TopReads |Top 5 Reads of 2018

Ok kids, here it is. We’ve read A LOT this year. As a four person collective, The P.Turners have read over 250 books in 2018! I know that some bloggers will achieve this single handed! However, it’s no competition and we all deserve a pat on the back!

We’ve read some pretty incredible books this year and pushed ourselves into trying different genres, new authors, readalongs, readathons and reading challenges! Choosing a Top 5 is always one of those tasks which take the most thought, but we have managed it! In no particular order, these are our top reads for 2018….

-S.

FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE by Mariana Zapata

HEART SWARM (DI Will Harlan #1) by Allan Watson

THE STORY OF US (Carnage #1) by Lesley Jones

BAIT by Jade West

DEEP BLUE TROUBLE (Lori Anderson #2) by Steph Broadribb

*L*

VERITY by Colleen Hoover

FIVE YEARS FROM NOW by Paige Toon

ALL YOUR PERFECTS by Colleen Hoover

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

AND SO IT BEGINS by Rachel Abbott

[K]

ALICE (The Chronicles of Alice #1) by Christina Henry

LUCKY SCARS by Kerry Heavens

THE HUMANS by Matt Haig

CLAIMING AMBER (A Broken Heart #2) by Vi Carter

CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber

-M-

PAINTED FACES by L.H. Cosway

SERPENTINE (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #26) by Laurell K. Hamilton

BAIT by Jade West

LUCKY SCARS by Kerry Heavens

WITH THIS MAN (This Man #4) by Jodi Ellen Malpas

There we have it folks! Our top reads for 2018! We’re looking forward to another year of great reads, more reading challenges and plenty of author signing events to keep us busy!

What are some of your favourite reads of 2018? What books are you most looking forward to in 2019?

#TopReads of 2017

Wowsers! What a year it has been! This time last year I was about to embark on my very first blog tour. Fast forward 12 months and I am so proud and humbled to have worked with some amazing authors, publicists and publishers to work on over FORTY blog tours – hopefully inspiring our followers to pick up something different.

Below are just a handful of my stand out reads for 2017. I’m going to try and keep this as short as possible. Top 5’s are SO last year!

In no particular order….

35184232

THE FOURTH MONKY (#MK4 #1) by J.D Barker (June 2017, HQ)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 16.46.15

THE CHILD by Fiona Barton (June 2017, Bantam Press)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

34722435

INSIDIOUS INTENT (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan #10) by Val McDermid (August 2017, Little Brown)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

34734967

THE OTHER TWIN by L.V. Hay (July 2017, Orenda)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

30141176

DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb (January 2017, Orenda)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

33638884

CURSED (Henning Juul #4) by Thomas Enger (January 2017, Orenda)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 12.20.50

THE KILLER (Kaz Phelps #3) by Susan Wilkins (March 2017, Pan Macmillan)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Most Anticipated Read for 2018?

There are SO many great authors releasing books next year that it’s difficult to pinpoint a particular favourite… Saying that, there is one book that has stuck with me that I am super keen to read and that is the collaboration between James Patterson and none other and former President of the United States; Bill Clinton!

Their book THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING is due for release early June 2018 (just in time for my birthday) and all the blurb says for now is ‘A sitting president is missing’. Don’t know about you, but I am excited for this already!
Let us know below that your favourite reads of this year were What are your anticipated reads for 2018? 

-S.

#Top10Tuesday – My Favourite Romance Novels

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-19-10-23

#Top10Tuesday is a weekly book tag hosted by the fab team over at The Broke and The Bookish

The rules are simple – following a given prompt (or choose your own) you choose 10 items that fit within that prompt.

This week, following an in depth conversation with the other P.Turners – I decided to post MY Top Romance books. Now, we all know that I’m predominantly a crime fiction reader. Back in 2011, I was talking to a psychologist who suggested that my moods could sometimes be affected by reading too much “dark” material and that maybe I should branch out and try and read something “lighter”.

After the appointment, I took myself to my local ASDA and saw they had just re-stocked the book shelf with all of the new releases and I picked up a book that sounded exactly what I needed;

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

That’s right – the book I picked up was the newly released FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. I don’t normally conform the whole hipster idea of “I saw/read/made/heard this thing WAY before it become popular” but in this case, I actually did. At this stage, NO ONE had heard of this book. I sat, I read, fell in love and that started to get annoyed at myself as to why I hadn’t explored other genres before.

The recommendation from the psychologist work – I soon noticed that reading something more fluffy and light lifted my moods and it helped me to discover a WHOLE new world.

You only need to look at AESTAS BOOK BLOG to see there are HUNDREDS of sub-genres of romance fiction. The below selection of books are ones I have read, some re-read and loved. They may not be to everyone’s taste – but reading is never clear cut. I will forever champion people who want to sit and read, no matter what genre.
In no particular order;

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-40-15-am

1. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L James
First Published 2011 (Random House, AUS)

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires

This series is now infamous across the world. For the most part, you say ‘FIFTY SHADES’ and before you even have chance to finish the sentence, you are confronted with a barrage of “it’s sh*t, the writings terrible, he’s a woman beater, etc, etc”. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is pretty average, you can certainly tell that James isn’t a seasoned novelist (her career is in TV!) but the story is there.

Too many people have a negative reaction to this book, many of which haven’t read the whole series. Sometimes I wonder if people protest too much and actually enjoyed the books – but are embarrassed to say so? At the end of it all, this is FICTION. Make believe.

I didn’t see this many people getting upset when THE CROW GIRL came out? Or AMERICAN PSYCHO? I applaud E.L. James. Without this book – the books that follow this TOP 10 would have languished on shelves forever….*M* from this blog would not have embraced the genre and I may be a different kind of reader altogether!

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-40-53-am

2. GABRIEL’S INFERNO by Sylvain Reynard
First Published 1st April, 2011 (Omnific Publishing)

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.

When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.

Like many readers, after FIFTY SHADES – I was then looking for the next romance novel to really get into. After reading about how FIFTY SHADES started out as Twilight Fan Fiction, there was also a link to other works that also started life as Fan Fiction and this is where I discovered GABRIEL’S INFERNO.

Firstly, Sylvain Reynard is a pen-name. At this stage, we have NO idea of the true identity of this author, which I like. There is a mysterious nature about the author, which is then translated into the book as we meet Gabriel Emerson. What I loved about this book (and series) is how much more romantic the story is….SPOILER…..they don’t even KISS until half way through! This is the book I recommend to people after FIFTY SHADES if they are looking for something with more romance in.

Why they haven’t optioned this for a TV series yet is beyond me?!

When people ask me for a book that is EVEN filthier than FIFTY SHADES…..I recommend this;

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-41-34-am

3. BARED TO YOU by Sylvia Day
First Published 3rd April, 2012 (Berkley)

“Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness.

He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily
Gideon “knew.”

He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each others most private wounds and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart.”

Once again, I was on the hunt for a book following my FIFTY SHADES/GABRIEL EMERSON binge, but decided to go the other way and look for something raunchier. Delving into the Erotica section – I discovered BARED TO YOU by Sylvia Day. The storyline doesn’t read too dissimilar to FIFTY SHADES, however the characters are certainly more relatable as human beings who have problems in their lives like you or I.

This series will certainly make you blush!

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-42-01-am
4. MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover
Published; March 18th, 2014 (Atria Books)

Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she’s a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts.

The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope….

*L* has always been a fan of contemporary romance, especially the works of Colleen Hoover. I had seen the name floating around and after plenty of nagging, I picked up MAYBE SOMEDAY.

DAMN! Hoover can write….and write good! Like nearly EVERYONE who has read this book, you fall completely in love with Ridge. How can you not?! Hoover has essentially the perfect man, which is refreshing after reading so much about troubled men who behave terribly towards women and blame it on their past.

MAYBE SOMEDAY started my love affair with Hoover and we are going pretty steady now 🙂

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-42-29-am
5. BEAUTIFUL DISASTER by Jamie McGuire
Published; August 14th, 201 (Atria Books)

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Once I finished with Colleen Hoover – I did what most readers do, I scour Good reads/blogs to see what I should be reading next and BEAUTIFUL DISASTER was recommended. This is the first in the Maddox Brothers series, with the first book focusing on Travis and his relationship with Abby.

It is at this point where I started to feel like a bit of a book slut as I was starting to collect Book Boyfriends 🙂 This book is funny, romantic, sweet, dramatic and everything I wanted and more!

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-43-21-am
6. PHOEBE JEEBIES AND THE MAN WHO ANNOYED EVERYBODY by RYAN BRACHA
Published; December 11th, 2016 (Abracadabra Books)

Phoebe’s just a girl who likes a guy.

He’s different. His mind doesn’t seem to work like everybody else’s. She’s not sure yet, but he could be a keeper. What’s really interesting about him, though, is his job.

His job isn’t work. Not really. It’s more an extremely lucrative hobby, with an added dash of fun and amusement. He annoys people intentionally. There’s not just him, either. There are hundreds of them, and they work on a commission basis.

The man who pushes the trolley into the back of your legs at the supermarket without apologising. The chances are, he’s one.

The bartender that serves everybody but you. The man who peed on the public toilet seat just before you get there, bursting to do a dump. The self published writers who flood the market with unfiltered crap. All of them get paid to do it.

But how do you get into the professional annoyance game? Who runs it? Who’s paying and why? Phoebe wants to know, and she’s not leaving his side until she knows everything.

I was fortunate to receive an early release copy of this book via *K* from our blog is rather good friends with the author; Ryan Bracha.

I have to admit that I was a little dubious at first – but I went in with no expectations…..and it paid off! This book is excellent! It’s a short and sweet story of a man (name is not mentioned in the book) who meet Phoebe. He falls for her hard.

The story follows our man explaining to Phoebe what he does for a living  – he annoys people. Literally. That is what he does. He works for a man where money is no object and his assignment is simple – annoy people. The bigger the annoyance and reaction, the bigger the payout.

A truly smart and funny romance novel 🙂

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-42-57-am


7. ME BEFORE YOU by JoJo Moyes

Published; January 2nd, 2012 (Penguin UK)

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

I needed tissues. Lots of tissues! I think I am definitely getting softer in my old age as I cried pretty much for the most of this book.

ME BEFORE YOU is beautifully written and Moyes has taken the greatest care with a subject that is sensitive for many families around the world. The dynamics between Louisa and Will was a joy to read – all whilst knowing that this book was going to meet a tragic end.

I haven’t read the sequel AFTER YOU as yet as I don’t think I am emotionally ready!

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-43-47-am

8. IT ENDS WITH US by Colleen Hoover
Pubished; August 2nd, 2016 (Atria Books)

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

Holy smokes Batman! This was one hard read – but also beautiful and ugly. The blurb is correct when it states it contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter. It is a romance novel which shows another side of a relationship – not the sex and the romance, but the real ugly side of where one of the couple loses control which has catastrophic consequences.

One of the best books that I read in 2016. The Author’s Note at the end of this book gives us a look into Hoover’s personal life and what inspired her to write IT ENDS WITH US. This only goes to help reinforce why Hoover is an important writer that we should all be paying attention to.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-44-16-am

9. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Published; December 1st, 2009 (Little, Brown and Company)

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Not being a huge fan of YA (I do read YA…but not that much!) I was a little apprehensive about starting BEAUTIFUL CREATURES as part of me wondered whether this was going to be a TWILIGHT rip off?

Thankfully I was so terribly wrong! This is a love story between a young Caster; Lena as she approaches her 16th birthday and Ethan; the token human who has no abilities. The two meet and soon start an intense relationship that between Garcia & Stohl has been beautifully written. There is the added drama with Lena’s family and their disapproval of Ethan.

One of the few fantasy/paranormal YA I really enjoyed.

Let’s not talk about the film adaptation…..

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-44-39-am

10. UGLY LOVE by Collen Hoover
Published; August 5th, 2014 (Atria Books)

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

Hoover has done it once again! There must be a reason why she has featured three times on this list?! Say what you like, but Hoover knows how to write contemporary romance!

Miles Archer is a bad boy. But, as this is a Hoover novel – our bad boy has a reason for being this way and is actually a pretty instense and messed up man. The arrangement between Tate and Miles is pretty common these days – just not many people talk about it, so it’s refreshing to read this kind of romance.

This is what brings me back for more with Hoover’s work. She doesn’t recycle the same plot with different names, each book is completely different – but still has that dollop of magic stirred in.
Thank you so much for reading! Do you agree or disagree with any of the books in my Top 10? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time…..

-S.

#Top10Tuesday – Books I Loved More/Less Than I Thought

#Top10Tuesday is a weekly book tag hosted by the fab team over at The Broke and The Bookish

The rules are simple – following a given prompt (or choose your own) you choose 10 items that fit within that prompt.

This weeks prompt is ‘Books I loved more/less than I thought’ which is only the tip of the iceberg considering some of the calibre of work I have read over the last few years.

In no particular order;


THE FIREMAN
by Joe Hill (Orion Publishing Group, 2016)screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-4-54-09-am

This was by far my TOP read for 2016! It took me completely by surprise. I don’t normally read a lot of Horror Fiction. But this book blew me away!

A deadly spore is infecting the world with fire. Alliances are soon formed in an effort to combat the infection – whilst others embrace the changes.

Click here for more info on this book!

 


ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
by Ken Kesey (Penguin Books, 2008 – Original Publication 1962)

After being a long time fan of the movie – it took me until 2015 to finally pick up the book. The biggest misconception is that the book is about McMurphy. This certainly became apparent to me while reading it! A beautiful story.

Click here for more info on this book!

 
screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-4-54-34-am
TENNISON
by Lynda LaPlante (Simon & Schuster UK, May 2016)

Having never read any of Lynda LaPlantes’ work – I was a little dubious with TENNISON, but the blurb grabbed my attention. It’s one thing to read a modern day police procedural – but one set in the early 1970’s?

Exceptional.

Click here for more info on this book!

 

 

 

GABRIEL’S INFERNO by Sylvain Reynard (Penguin UK, 2012)

It’s true – I read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY/DARKER/FREED and although the writing was terrible….I actually enjoyed the books! I read all three in less than four days! So naturally I was looking for the next read that would satisfy (Oh my!) my needs for further fictional romance. I stumbled across GABRIEL’S INFERNO which incidentally was also born from Twilight fanfiction, but with a major difference. Reynard (a pen name) can actually write a beautiful love story! I always recommend this series!

Click here for more info on this book!

 
MAESTRA by L.S.Hilton (Zaffre, 2016)screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-4-57-04-am

Hilton must be well connected as this book made headline news in the UK as being the book to “make Fifty Shades look like a children’s book” and “the most shocking thriller you’ll read this year”. Unfortunately for me personally, neither of these statements are true. Within the first three pages we were served the C-bomb, which felt like it was there for shock value, rather than adding to the story. I just didn’t gel with this book….and I really wanted to after all of the hype I’d seen/heard.

Click here for more info on this book!

 

 

THE INFORMANT by Susan Wilkins (Pan Macmillan, 2014)

Bookmail for birthdays are the BEST, but also come with that fear of whether you’ll enjoy that book and how you report back! This happened when I received a copy of THE INFORMANT in 2016 – Would I like it? Would I hate it? How do I tell my friend I didn’t enjoy it? But my worries were misplaced. I LOVED this book! So much that I quickly bought the sequel….and getting geared up for the release of book three!

Click here for more info on this book!

 
screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-4-56-15-amAMERICAN PSYCHO by Bret Easton Ellis (Picador, 1991)

Like most people I know, my only experience with AMERICAN PSYCHO was watching Christian Bale dance around an apartment to Huey Lewis and the News and taking an axe to Jared Leto!! I was NOT prepared for the book. I now understand why some book stores actually SEAL the book and put an age restriction on it. It’s grim, graphic, gory and gaaah! Again, this is another book that I will recommend to people – however I am now constantly on the hunt for the next book that will sicken me (in a good way) the way this book did!

Click here for more info on this book!

 
THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, 2014)

I don’t mind admitting that this was a “sheep” purchase. I bought this book because everyone else was. Why was everyone buying this book? Because a journalist discovered that Robert Galbraith is a pen-name for Queen of the Muggles herself; J.K.Rowling.

I LOVED this book more than I thought I would. It took me a while to shake off that this was written by the same woman who wrote about our favourite young wizard – but this crime novel stands up with some of the best!

Click here for more info on this book!

 
EENY MEENY by M.J.Arlidge (Penguin, 2014)screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-4-57-59-am

There is a reason that this book (and series) is well loved across different Crime Fiction forums….it’s blooming excellent! I purchased this book as part of a large haul late 2016 and this book was in there. Another “sheep” purchase!

The premise reads like a SAW movie; when the chips are down and you are trapped….would you rather kill….or be killed?! This book sent chills down my spine and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next books to read what happened next!

Click here for more info on this book!

 

THE MERMAID’S SINGING by Val McDermid (Harper Collins, 2005 – Original Publication, 1995)

The final book in my Top10 and the book that got me interested in Crime Fiction from an early age. My Mum was a big fan of Val McDermid and had all of the Tony Hill books on her bookshelf. I was early teens when I asked if I could borrow one of her books. I’d always had a keen interested in Crime Fiction.

Once I got my hands on this book, I read it cover to cover and it dawned on me then that reading fiction would never be the same for me again. This book shocked me, it made me feel slightly ill and I fell head over heels for our protagonists; Carol Jordan and Tony Hill.

If someone was to ask me to buy them MY favourite book – it would be this!

Click here for more info on this book!
Have you read any of the books in my Top10? Can you relate to why I loved/disliked these? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

-S.

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #SEALSKIN by @SuBristow (February 2017, @orendabooks)

As always, I would like to start by saying a huge huge THANK YOU to Karen @ Orenda Books for allowing me an early copy of SEALSKIN. I am extremely grateful and promise that the review below is 100% honest and my own views.

So first off, we have “the blurb” for the book:

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous … and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence?

Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance.

Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.
So, you want to know what I think?

Charming, dazzling, delicate, delightful, elegant, graceful, stunning, superb and wonderful. Just some of the many synonyms I can use for BEAUTIFUL as this is what this book is.

I have to admit that when I read the premise for SEALSKIN, I had to sit and wonder whether this was the book for me and would I enjoy it. I’m a crime-fiction girl at heart and sometimes feel more comfortable with grim, mysterious and dramatic writing. After a stern conversation with my doctor – they once advised me that maybe switching my reading habits every now and then would help lift my mood. It was at this point I picked up FIFTY SHADES OF GREY when it first came out (I actually loved the series by the way! Despite the questionable writing)

Anyway – I digress. What I am trying to say in a waffly way is that I am now more open to new genres of fiction and that’s why I jumped into SEALSKIN knowing nothing about the story apart from the blurb and I was truly blown away.

Such a simple story, but with a wonderful writing style, Bristow was able to take her readers to the Scottish setting where SEALSKIN takes place and allow us to become invested in the characters. So much so that I found myself in tears towards the end of the story.

A truly wonderful read that I will be recommending to EVERYONE!

Su was gracious enough to answer some questions we had about this wonderful book!

1) Can you tell us what the inspiration was for you to write SEALSKIN?
I’ve always loved the Selkie legends, because they speak to us on so many levels. But it’s the contradiction at the heart of this story that really got me wondering: how would that really work? A relationship that starts with violence and trickery could surely only have one outcome – but what if the fisherman regretted what he had done, and truly wanted to make amends? So, of course, it had to be written from Donald’s point of view. It was a risk, because he isn’t at all likeable to start with, and that’s often death to the whole novel. But I thought it was a risk worth taking.

2) Do you believe in any other legends? If so, have you considered writing a novel based on them?
All the great legends are ‘true’, in the sense that they express something we need to say about the human condition, but some have more resonance for me than others. Some of my favourites are The Snow Queen, the story of Persephone, Cupid and Psyche and Skeleton Woman. But the little stories are often more full of life, like the Norwegian tale of the woman who saves herself from a troll by playing the riddle game. I adapted that for a short story, ‘Troll Steps’, which is in the anthology ‘Barcelona to Bihar’ by Earlyworks Press.

3) Why did you choose the legend of Selkies for your first novel?
It started out as a short story! I chose it for its layers of meaning. Apart from the main theme mentioned above, there’s the way we respond to nature, wildness and magic. How we deal with outsiders or people who don’t fit in. How we can grow through and beyond some of the terrible things that happen to us, or – sometimes – the terrible things we do. I love stories in which magic comes into everyday life, and I’m half Scottish, so I felt I had permission, in a way, to work with this story.

4) Your history in writing started with non-fiction works on herbal medicine – what prompted you to make the move into fiction writing?
Actually, fiction came first. I was always making up stories in my teens, with friends or by myself. Then real life got in the way! I never stopped reading fiction, except for a year or so at university, but the business of getting qualified, getting married, having children, settling in mid-Devon and so on, took priority. It wasn’t until I moved to Exeter about ten years ago that I found my way to a creative writing class, and started making things up again. I knew I needed the support and stimulus of fellow-travellers. Those classes were huge fun, and when they finished a group of us carried on meeting to read and give each other feedback on our work. We still do.

5) What is next for Su Bristow?
Right now, standing on the brink of paperback publication, the focus is on helping Sealskin on its way. Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books is doing a fantastic job of arranging publicity – this blog tour is the proof of that! And there are roadshows, articles and so on to come. But I am also working on the next novel. Fairies are involved this time, but not the sort that flit around the flowers. These are the kind that lead you off the path, give you wishes that never quite work properly, steal things and generally disturb your peace. It won’t be soon, but I am getting there…

About SU BRISTOW:
Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern.

Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.

SEALSKIN is out now and can be purchased at the following outlets;

Amazon (UK); http://amzn.to/2kyZsRt
Waterstones; http://bit.ly/2lfUmK4

-S.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Blog Tour. See below for further details and be sure to follow all the action across Twitter!

#LettersFromTheHeart; WARLEGGAN (Poldark #4) by #WinstonGraham (Pan Macmillan, June 2008 – Original Publication 1953)

As per the previous 3 books I was completely sucked in by the lives of Ross & Demelza as we read about the trouble and adventures they were involved in this time.

The reason for 4 stars is that there was a tiny part of this book that I really disliked and struggled with. We begin to dislike a favourite character as we see a new side to this person, but the people we love are back and of course the people we love to hate too.

As per usual there was never a dull moment with things happening on the first page and as always there were births, deaths and marriages.

A fabulous installment of the Poldark series and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

*L*

16819160_1629931647022928_942290561477278563_o

#BlogTour #CURSED by Thomas Enger @EngerThomas) (@OrendaBooks)

As always, I would like to start by saying a huge huge THANK YOU to Karen @ Orenda Books for allowing me an early copy of CURSED. I am extremely grateful and promise that the review below is 100% honest and my own views.

So first off, we have “the blurb” for the book:

What secret would you kill to protect?

When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests.

Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-­‐wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-­‐wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Taut, chilling and unputdownable, Cursed is the fourth in the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned by always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers.

So, you want to know what I think?

I’m starting to wonder whether Orenda are capable of releasing “okay” fiction. This is the fourth book of theirs I have read in 2017 and I am not exaggerating or embellishing the truth when I say I have enjoyed every one! CURSED was no exception!

Firstly, CURSED is the fourth installment following our leading character, Henning Juul. Again, I was dubious in starting a series so far down the line – but after some encouragement from Abby over at Crime By The Book (and also with some homework on the characters) I jumped in!.

WOW. Wow. Wow! Those who know me know I reserve my 5 Stars for truly outstanding writing and a book that makes me feel incredibly giddy thinking about it and turns my reviews into waffling nonsense. CURSED. IS. THAT. BOOK! We are only on 15th February. There are 319 days left of 2017 and I’ve already given TWO five star reviews! CURSED deserves this rating wholeheartedly.

CURSED is a prime example of a story that ideally should be enjoyed as part of a series, as you then have that deeper understanding of the characters and what they have been through and how they have ended up in their current situation. However, saying that – CURSED can also be enjoyed as a standalone novel (as I have) as Enger has written this book in a way that gives a new reader enough information to aid the flow of the story.

This is a wonderfully written book from Enger highlights how even the most polished looking families can harbor deep secrets that eventually tear them apart. Each member of the family in question was given their own “15 minutes of fame” so there was no leaning to one character or the other until the end of the book. When the drama comes to a head, the story of how each family member plays their individual part is intricately weaved together like a piece of fine tapestry, it makes you stand book and admire what has been created.

Once again, Orenda are responsible for my ever growing TBR, my lack of sleep, but more importantly introducing me to some exceptional authors.

My aim is to now visit the first novels in this series – start from the beginning and understand more about Henning and Nora’s relationship and how it went so terribly wrong for them.

Do we also need to talk about that ending though?!

About THOMAS ENGER:

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news.

Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

CURSED is out now and can be purchased at the following outlets;

Amazon (UK); http://amzn.to/2kiXI0g
Waterstones; http://bit.ly/2kz6khX

-S.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Blog Tour. See below for further details and be sure to follow all the action across Twitter!

#IncidentReport; THE CROW GIRL by #ErikAxlSund (Harvill Secker, 2016)

⭐⭐
FINALLY! It seems like I have been reading this book forever – but I have read two books at the same time, so I’m not too mad at myself. I also wanted to take my time with this book as I have heard SO much about it and wanted to savour every page.
Firstly – thanks to Abby at CRIME BY THE BOOK as she has championed this book since it’s release and has nothing but great things to say about this book. Abby gives unbiased reviews and opinions, so I 100% trust her words!

THE CROW GIRL by far is one of the grimmest books I have ever read – it’s up there with AMERICAN PSYCHO and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Both of which build up a mental picture much worse than anything that could be translated to film.
A stern warning though – this book is NOT for the faint hearted. There are plenty of trigger warnings for subject matters such as child abuse, cults and child torture/murder. If this kind of thing turns your stomach, then this book is NOT for you, especially when there is over 750 pages of it! If however, you have a strong stomach and enjoy great writing full of corruption, suspense and drama, then this book IS DEFINITELY for you!
The history behind THE CROW GIRL is that is was originally released in native Sweden as a three part series (hence why there are three parts to the book and it’s well over 700 pages) by author Erik Axl Sund; a partnership between Jerker Eriksson and Hakan Alexander Sundquist. Translated beautifully for the UK release by Neil Smith who I think has been able to capture every feeling that the authors penned.
THE CROW GIRL blurb states; “It starts with the discovery of a young boy in a Sweden car park. The boys has been tortured, mummified and discarded. Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.”
You will find yourself in parts skimming back a couple of pages to make sense of what you are reading! There are plenty of ‘WTF’ moments throughout this book! This is a massive compliment to Erik Axl Sund who manages to keep the readers attention and makes you question whether what you are reading is even real.
THE CROW GIRL is currently available in Hardback via Harvill Secker at the following UK outlets;
Waterstones; http://bit.ly/2jSGhVS
-S.

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-10-55-39-am

TOP READS of 2016

To round out 2016, I tried to put together a ‘TOP FIVE’ but it soon quickly turned into a ‘TOP SIX’ (Well, Seven) Reads of this year!

THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill (May 2016, Orion)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: http://bit.ly/2gj7oCH

TENNISON by Lynda La Plante (June 2016, Simon & Schuster UK)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: http://bit.ly/2gt0Zbw

EENY MEENY by M.J.Arlidge (May 2014, Penguin UK)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: http://bit.ly/2glo1m6

INFORMANT & THE MOURNER by Susan Wilkins (November 2014 & May 2015, Pan Macmillan)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full reviews: http://bit.ly/2gj8QF3 & http://bit.ly/2hdtgUJ

CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith (October 2015, Sphere)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: http://bit.ly/2h6199i

LOVE YOU DEAD by Peter James (May 2016, Pan Macmillan)
My GR rating; ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: http://bit.ly/2hc2rNT

Biggest Disappointment of 2016

MAESTRA by L.S Hinton
My GR rating: ⭐️⭐️
Such a shame. This book was highly publicised and marketed as ‘the thriller of the year’ and how this was that risqué it made the Fifty Shades series look tame. Take the sex element out of this book and there is a good plot there, it was just poorly executed and no amount of the c-bomb made up for the poor content.

There is a second helping on the horizon with ‘DOMINA’ (March 2017, Zaffre) which is a continuation of MAESTRA. Not holding much faith…

Full review: http://bit.ly/2hnqiNI

Most Anticipated Read for 2017

There are far too many books I am eager to get my hands on but there is one in particular;

FOLLOW MY LEADER by M.J.Arlidge (Est. March 2017, Pengiun UK) – The next installment of the Helen Grace series

Let us know below that your favourite reads of this year were!

-S.