Friday Face Off : Meringue : the puffy dress?

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Meringue – the puffy dress? – Lots of covers with ‘big’ dresses

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

This week I had a few ideas in mind (by which I mean a lot) but in the spirit of highlighting more recent reads I’ve gone for The Harwood Spellbook series by Stephanie Burgis.  Obviously, these are very recent books and so there isn’t a selection of cover for each individual novel (that I’m aware of) so I’ve gone for a face off between the series, which means, lots of dresses!  Which is your favourite:

Spellswept1Snowspelled2Thornbound3Moontangled4

My favourite

Snowspelled2

I think these are all great covers, and it’s interesting to see the different styles, but this one appeals to me because of the cool tones which reflect the story so well.  The dress and style also put me in mind of a Jane Austen style novel which is also quite fitting because these novels are all period pieces.

Which is your favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know 😀

Next week – Leap Year – One Ring to rule them all – A cover with a ring

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

28th February – Leap Year – One Ring to rule them all – A cover with a ring

6th March – Skeleton – them bones, them bones, them dry bones…

13th March – Exotic – ‘That which yields, is not always weak”– anything that represents something from distant lands.

20th March – Brown – a cover or covers that are brown

27th March – Freebie – choose one of your favourite covers

3rd April Fools – a trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Posted On 20 February 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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TheGuestlistAround the end of 2018 I picked up The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and really enjoyed it (my review is here)- so much so that when I saw The Guest List was due to be published this month I nearly had a conniption rushing to request a copy.  And I was so lucky to be approved that I positively danced a little victory dance.  Okay, I did dance that dance but I refuse to be shamed by it.  I was a happy reader (having a request approved just never gets old for me and always amazes and delights me in equal measure).

So, the Guest List.  Did it live up to my high expectations?  It most certainly did, in fact I think it surpassed them in some ways and if pushed I’d probably say I liked it even more than The Hunting Party (more victory dancing).  Foley has a fantastic way of taking a group of characters and really bringing them to life.  She seems an expert in creating murder mysteries where everyone has something to hide and I’m simply loving her work (no pressure at all there then).

This is a story that definitely has Christie vibes.  Here we have a group of people assembling on a remote island to enjoy a wedding.  It should be a joyous occasion (although we all know how disastrously these little get togethers can be, people who haven’t met for years with old grudges coming out of the woodwork).  The setting is very remote – this is a tiny island off the coast of Ireland accessible only by boat.  Of course, in true murder mystery fashion the weather is not going to co-operate and what starts off as a bright and sunny day soon looks like a different kettle of fish as stormy clouds gather on the horizon and as the weather changes so does the mood of the guests and there’s this terrible tension before things go horribly wrong.

Okay, this shares a lot of themes with The Hunting Party – but they’re such good themes that they work.  The isolated setting.  The meeting up of a group of people, all with their own secrets and motives and the eventual discovery of a body that for a while is part of the mystery itself as the identity is not immediately revealed.

The story is told in two timelines, ‘Now’ and ‘The Day Before’ and has five different POVs.  Now, to be clear, this may sound like a lot of jumping around and lots of names to remember, but Foley has made it all deceptively simple by not only clearly heading each chapter but also by giving people relevant titles so we have The Bride, The Bridesmaid, The Plus One, The Wedding Planner and the Best Man.

The wedding itself is a big posh celebrity affair.  The Groom is an up and coming star who is the leading man in a successful survival show.  The bride is the owner of a very popular online magazine that sets trends and dictates fashion ‘must haves’.  Of course the two are going to have a lavish affair that showcases their beauty, success and taste and the wedding has been planned down to the finest detail (although the murderer has a different agenda).

I will say that if you plan on reading this you need to be aware that some of the characters are a little unlikeable – although as you get to know them you start to get a deeper understanding of their own personal drivers.  The bride for example.  A little (a lot) vain, desperately needs to be in control and ensure that everything is perfect and she comes across as a little cold and calculating.  She does reveal a different side as the story progresses though so be patient.  The groom, who doesn’t have his own POV chapter but we see through the other pov’s eyes.  So dazzlingly attractive that he stops most people in their tracks, charming and able to smile his way into anybody’s good books.  What the groom shares with both his Best Man and Ushers is a past.  They all attended a top notch private school for the privileged and most of them have been incredibly successful as a result.  Foley does an excellent job of portraying these characters and their bully-boy ways painting them in rather aggressive or patronising tones dependent upon who they’re trying to curry favour with or belittle.  The bridesmaid (and younger sister to the bride) has experienced some sort of trauma in her past that has made her retreat into herself.  She has withdrawn to a dark and lonely place and finds it difficult to connect to anyone.  Basically, I’m not going to give a description for everyone as these people are best discovered during the read.  Suffice to say that there are a lot of secrets here and they will all be revealed in a most deliciously startling and jaw dropping fashion.

The setting is great and really plays into the story.  Here you have a tiny island, only two miles long and a fraction of that in width.  Very little wifi signal and no residents other than the owners of the wedding venue.  There are beautiful, sheltered, white sandy coves with sparkling turquoise waters.  The old house has been renovated to perfection and outside stands the remains of a chapel – open to the elements – where the wedding will take place.  It all sounds simply superb.  Of course, the sunshine has a way of beautifying everything doesn’t it.  Roll in the stony skies and the seas crashing against the rocks and the cliffs and bogs take on a more threatening demeanour, especially with all the rumours of ghosts running amok and the dodgy electrics going out at the most inopportune times.

The pacing is brilliant and I love the way Foley writes.  She puts me very much in mind of DuMaurier with the easy way she brings her characters and settings to life.  I had a difficult time putting this down and was always anxious to sit back down and pick up where I left off.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this isn’t a particularly long book and there is plenty fitted into the available pages.  I guess this could have been expanded slightly to help develop some of the characters at a slower pace, for example, the bride and groom – I wasn’t totally convinced by their relationship.  They were definitely in lust with each other but I couldn’t quite understand why they’d decided to marry.  The ending in particular feels almost over a little too quickly – but, I think that’s just me being greedy for more.   This is a two day event and fittingly I actually devoured it in the same time frame.

I highly recommend The Guest List.  If you like mysteries with lots of secrets then you really can’t go wrong with this one.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 of 5 stars

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.  I cannot even begin to express how excited I am about this book.  I loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and have been eagerly awaiting news of what Susanna Clarke would write next.  Anyway – here’s the cover and the description (and thanks to Tammy for bringing this to my attention last week and just about making my day):

PiranesiFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s CircePiranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

Expected publication: September 2020

The morning after the night before. Book hangovers.

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is :

The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover

I’ve literally scrolled through my list of books and picked out the ten most recent books that immediately jumped out at me.  All for different reasons – but all good books.

  1. The God Game by Danny Tobey.  I loved this, a Big Brother type game that starts innocent enough but quickly escalates.
  2. The Other People by CJ Tudor – I was gripped.  How could I not be. A man who thinks his daughter has been taken but nobody believes him.
  3. The Strawberry Thief (Chocolat #4) by Joanne Harris.  An absolutely gorgeous book full of enchantment that felt like it was written just for me.
  4. One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence – fantastic sci fi.  Any author that can make me enjoy time travel (and all the paradox headaches) is definitely winning.
  5. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher.  This book is so good.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it for such a long time.
  6. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse.  This is the second in series -the first is also really good but I think this one was even better – no middle book syndrome here.
  7. House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark.  This is the concluding book in a trilogy.  It’s an absolutely fantastic ending, brutally honest and true to itself.
  8. Ration by Cody T Luff.  This is a hard hitting and brilliant read.  Not for the faint hearted maybe but I still think about it months after putting it down.
  9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow – a story for story lovers.
  10. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.  This gave me the feeling of reading a classic – but something along the lines of Moll Flanders.  Very cheeky and with light fantasy.  I can’t wait to see what this author does next.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) by K.S. Villoso

thewolf ofI have to hand it to KS Villoso for running me through the gamut of emotions reading the first in her Bitch Queen series.  Was I sometimes confused by this tough leading lady – oh yes.  Did she sometimes make me want to shake her, indeed she did.  Did she repeatedly get herself into a pickle of a situation where I couldn’t see any possible solution, why yes, yes she did.  Did I really think she was a bitch – truthfully, no – I’ll elaborate don’t worry.  Has she wormed her way into my affections – damn it all, yes.  Do I want to run around stabbing and strangling people who get in her way or betray her – yes, and probably also no, because I’m a raging softie.  Drat it this is an addictive book, completely not what I was expecting in a lot of respects but, because of that, better than I hoped and a great start to series.  I’m not saying I didn’t have any little issues along the way, because I did, but the twists and reveals during the final chapters are like little light bulbs being turned on consecutively in a dark tunnel – they line up and shine some much needed light in places of need, they provide a focus and also a way of looking back and seeing things differently.

Okay, this review is not going to be about plot.  Know this though, this isn’t all about war and battles.  It’s not about tens of thousands of soldiers marching upon a city and ravaging the land as they forge ahead.  Also, it’s not overloaded with magic and fantasy although there are mages and dragons – just that they’re kept low key and I suspect they’re being held in abeyance to spring on us as the story progresses.  This is much more of a character driven story that uses subtle politics and scheming to great effect.  More than that it’s about the main character in particular and her own personal journey to enlightenment.

Queen Talyien may not have been a particularly spoiled or pampered Princess and being the daughter of a ruthless slayer certainly gave her a reputation to live up to, but she is without doubt still suffering from certain delusions or at the very least wearing her rose tinted glasses firmly strapped to her noggin.  And it’s this that the story really focuses on – or at least that’s what I took from it.  It’s about stripping away everything, not just physically although that certainly helps.  Here is a Queen so desperately hoping for things to work out that she’s started thinking that hopes and wishes will create rainbows and stardust and quite simply – they don’t.

Tali (as she is known by some) finds herself travelling to distant shores and within short shrift being betrayed in such a way that she is alone on the mean streets, without friends, advisors, money or means of protecting herself.  Let’s be honest, you can’t run around blurting out that you’re a Queen when you find yourself in the rougher quarters of town – at best people would think you were delusional, at worst, well, bad things would happen.  More than that though, this is a discovery about who Tali really is.  She’s not a totally happy bunny for a large portion of the story and it takes a while as a reader to discover why that’s the case, and during that time she can come across a little bit sorry for herself.  But, she’s been raised with certain expectations and she is clearly determined to do the right thing for her people and country.

I mentioned above that I didn’t really think of Tali as a bitch.  Seriously, I’m not saying that she’s an angel, she can be a bit stabby, her actions at the start of the story clearly  drove her husband to abandon her and their child and yet she still takes up the throne alone, but, with that particular title I expected a lot more harshness from her.  In fact to be frank, I found her to be a lot more reasonable and restrained in some of the situations she found herself in and also, she definitely has a certain honesty and forthrightness that I wouldn’t associate with a bitchy person.  I certainly couldn’t understand the devotion she seemed to have for her husband, especially as things came to light along the way.  He wasn’t exactly faithful and lets just call a spade a spade here – he was something of a hypocrite, but I’ll leave that alone.  What I think Villoso really excels at here though is the final stripping away of Tali’s romantic notions.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a romance, and yet, at the core of the story, the plot driver, is indeed the romantic longing of Tali’s to have her husband back. But, whilst tali’s heart pushes the plot forward this is without doubt a book about politics, the backstabbing-deal-making type of politics that has nothing to do with romantic notions and everything to do with power.  An eye opener for Tali and the reader.

In terms of criticisms.  I mentioned above that Tali can come across a little sorry for herself at times – just bear with her though, things are more convoluted than they first appear.  I think my main two issues were.  Firstly, I expected Tali to be a lot more forceful or commanding given her upbringing, but I guess she was being diplomatic in some of the situations she found herself in.  Which brings me to my next point, a number of the difficulties Tali found herself in seemed to rely on the unexpected involvement or appearance of a certain other.  This wasn’t really a problem as it was a character that I liked but I think I would have preferred it if Tali had had to rely on her own wits for some of the situations.  The only other issue I had was the baddie.  I won’t elaborate on who this might be but I must say he was a bit of a cookie cutout.  He was all but wearing a swirling cape, twirling his mustache and laughing maniacally whilst tying some young woman to the train tracks.  That being said – I still found his chapters highly compulsive so figure that one out.  I’m clearly a sucker for over the top baddies who I can boo at from the safety of my comfy chair.  It’s that whole ‘addictive’ thing rearing its head again.

In a nutshell (which I could have said approximately 900 words ago).  I enjoyed this very much, in fact I couldn’t wait to pick it up again.  It defied me at every turn.  It didn’t give Tali any breaks or go down the conventional paths that I sometimes thought it might take.  It has great world building, moments of lightness that stop it becoming too bleak and a winning focus on the main character who discovers things about herself at the same time as the reader.  I can’t wait to read No.2.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4 stars out of 5.

 

 

 

 

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