For Emily by Katherine Slee

Posted On 7 September 2019

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ForEmilyFor Emily is a lovely read about a young woman coming to terms with loss.  In some respects it puts me in mind of PS I Love You in that Emily is sent on a voyage of discovery by her deceased grandmother (not the same as PS I love you but similar(ish)).  I would say this would be a good book to take on holiday and sit reading by the pool or on the beach – which probably sounds odd or contradictory after saying it’s about a young woman coming to terms with loss – but, this is a light read, it’s not overly sombre and Emily herself goes on a number of excursions that take her to some beautiful places along the way.

This isn’t my usual type of read to be honest, no hints of the supernatural grace these pages, no ghosts or unexpected bumps in the night not even a suggestion of magical realism but it was a quick and light morsel between some heavier to digest books and in that respect it worked well for me.

Emily’s grandmother (Catriona) passed away a few weeks before the book starts and as the story begins a stranger appears on Emily’s doorstep to deliver a letter that Catriona wanted delivering.  From here on out we discover that Emily’s gran has set her a mission which will take her on a journey following in the footsteps of Catriona herself as a young woman when she set off on her own adventure.

By way of background we soon discover that Emily has been raised by her gran since the death of her parents in a terrible car crash.  Emily was the only survivor, sustaining terrible injuries herself that took a long time to recover from.  Catriona became Emily’s guardian and retreated to a small cottage in Norfolk where the two embarked on a writing project that saw Catriona become a famous author of children’s books that Emily provided the illustrations for.

This was a nice light read.  The writing was very easy to get along with and there was a good balance between pacing and backstory.  I would say that it reads a little bit ‘twee’ at times but not overly so.

The settings are probably what make the book for me, probably because I’ve been to a number of the places involved along the route and it almost felt like I got to revisit some of them as I experienced Emily’s journey.

The characters.  We get to see a little of Catriona’s past life as we follow Emily’s progress which was a really lovely way to find out about her.  Catriona was obviously a very spirited individual who led quite a fascinating life and made some very good friends along the way – this is a side to her that Emily never saw.  For Emily, Catriona had always lived in the small cottage that they called home – in fact Catriona had herself made lifestyle changes after her own daughter died in the car accident.  Emily, well, this felt like a journey for me as well as Emily in that at first I found her a little infuriating – for example, when she receives the letter from her gran she puts it to one side – I was almost shouting at her at that point – read the letter!  But, that’s me, sat in the comfort of my own home, reading a book and being intensely curious about the contents of that letter.  For Emily the letter was a shock and also a reality check, it jolted her out of the place she was settling into and forced her out of her comfort zone – which was exactly Catriona’s aim in the first place.  So, yes, I needed to give myself a bit of a reality check, give my head a wobble and realise that maybe I was being a bit too harsh!  Tyler is the other character who joins Emily as she follows the clues left by Catriona.  I’m not sure about Tyler, even now I’ve finished the book.  He wasn’t a bad character but I didn’t quite feel like I’d fully come to terms with his and Emily’s past.  I would have liked a bit more information, particularly given the ending – which I won’t spoil for others.  But, I can see that his inclusion acted as a way of keeping Emily on track.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing too major to be honest.  Yes, this was a little twee as I already mentioned.  I wouldn’t say that the clues and mystery were very ‘mysterious’, if anything it felt a little light in some respects and there is definitely a feeling of everything being very easy.  But, I think the author was trying to keep this light and entertaining rather than making it a sad read and in that respect she succeeded.  Also, I must say I think this would make an excellent adaptation to screen.

Overall, this was a good read. It was entertaining and quick paced and as I stated above would make a good holiday read, the type of book that you don’t have to overthink even though there is a lovely message in the voyage of discovery and a hopefulness that is uplifting.

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

I would rate this as 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

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Friday Face Off : “Warm September brings the fruit”

Posted On 6 September 2019

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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, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – 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:

“Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

I thought this week of doing something different.  I was going to post a number of covers that included what I think of as Autumnal colours yellows, oranges, reds, greens and browns – I love this time of year, I love the leaves and the darker nights.  Anyway, I went for something slightly different and I’m highlighting the four books in a series that I just love.  The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne.  Seriously, I can’t recommend this series enough.  It is so good.  So very, very good.  And the four covers are a great fit for this week’s theme:

Aren’t these covers great – If I was to choose a favourite I’d probably go with the 4th simply because of the colours:

Naturalist2

Like last week I’ve added a Mr Linky here so that you can leave a link if you wish or please leave me a link in the comments so we can all visit and check out each others covers.  Thanks

I’ve updated the list and included themes through to the end of 2019 – I’ve also included 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 that let me know in the comments).  I also have a list prepared for 2020 and so will set up a separate page soon for forthcoming themes.  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment.

Next week –  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers)

2019

13th September – Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

20th September – “Your hair is winter fire,January embers.” – A cover featuring hair

27th September – Freebie

4th October – “Feed me Seymour” – A cover that is 60s horror

11th October – ““And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”  – a cover featuring an Inn/Hotel

18th October – “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had on the white mask, he stalked the babysitters.” – A cover featuring a scream

25th October – for Halloween – pick any scary cover you like

(I’m hoping that November will once again bring to us SciFiMonth – Twitter @SciFiMonth)

1st November – A cover that is predominantly grey

8th November – “big badda boom” – a cover that features an explosion

15th November – “No thinking thing should be another thing’s property, to be turned on and off when it is convenient.” – a cover featuring a robot

22nd November – A cover that is Futuristic

29th November – “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – a cover that is 60s sci fi

6th December – Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”  – a cover that puts you in mind of winter

13th December – A cover that features a temple/or religious icon

20th December – Longest Night –  a dark and foreboding cover

27th December – the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.

Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer #Brightfall

Posted On 5 September 2019

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Today I’m joining the blog tour for Jaime Lee Moyer’s Brightfall.  This is a story that picks up a few years after Robin and his Merry Men and Maid Marian had their ‘happily ever after’.

Take a look at the other bloggers taking part on the banner below and try and pay them a visit too.

Brightfall

Brightfall returns us to the land of Sherwood Forest, to Marian, the Merry Men and Robin Hood.  But this is a Sherwood and a Marian that is different than the one we are familiar with.  Sherwood is home to the fae, Marian has magic of her own and Robin is not the man we once knew.

Brightfall is a story about Marian and the life she leads after all the events and goings on of Robin and his Merry Men.  Robin has left Marian and his family – for reasons that will unfold as the story progresses and Marian lives a quiet life in the shelter of Sherwood with her two children.  Unfortunately Marian’s tentative happiness is about to be broken when she receives a visit from Friar Tuck.  It seems that the Merry Men are dying, one by one, in unusual circumstances and the latest victim is a cruel blow for Marian.  Tuck suspects some sort of curse, the victims are all linked with Robin potentially the key.  Marian is asked to use her magic to try and uncover the start of the curse and so embarks on a journey of self discovery with Robin as her reluctant companion.

This is an unusual story and was different than what I originally expected.  I knew that this would be a mystery but I hadn’t quite expected to find an enchanted land of the fae.  I don’t make any secret of the fact that I love stories of the fae and so I was downright pleased when they made an appearance here.  That being said I do have slightly mixed feelings and it’s taken me a while to compose my thoughts.

On the one hand I love the story telling.  Jaime Lee Moyer has a lovely style of writing that I just found so easy to absorb.  Her descriptions are magical and she simply has a way of spinning a tale that is quite captivating.  I really enjoyed Marian, reading about her magic and her life since Robin left.  She’s found happiness unexpectedly and she is fiercely protective of her children.  When it comes to Robin – well, he’s a puzzle.  He abandoned Marian and the children a number of years ago taking refuge in a monastery to atone for his sins.  I think Robin is one of a couple of areas of this story that I struggled a little with at first and that kept me from becoming fully engaged.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not his change in character – which has become sullen and almost sulky – but I think I would have liked a bit more background about what led to the change.  There is an explanation but it felt a little glossed over and was too quickly discovered and then tucked away.  The other thing that I had a slight issue with was the meandering feel that the story has.  Marian goes from place to place, usually following a trail of breadcrumbs between victims until setting out on a different path.  I loved the journey but at the same time it started to feel a little like going round in circles, always one step behind.

Okay, so slight criticisms out of the way and, as mentioned above, having had time to ruminate I think the journey here was more one of self discovery.  For both Marian and Robin.  A coming to terms with past events and past mistakes.  Of course there’s the riddle of the murders to be solved and alongside that a feeling of not all being well in the fae court which explains their involvement in trying to solve the mystery but for me this felt like a book of exploration and discovery and the circuitous journey in between was an essential part of that.

This is a story that picks up after the ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ and it’s a really interesting idea – because don’t you ever wonder if they truly did live happily ever after?  Here we get to see that sometimes things don’t always go to plan and people change along the way, not always in the best ways.  That sounds quite serious in some ways doesn’t it and yet at the same time I think the author manages to turn Marian’s story into much more of a fairytale than I ever expected even with this sober slice of reality.

Overall this was an incredibly easy book to read, made so by the beautiful writing.  I had a couple of issues as mentioned above but they didn’t spoil the read for me at all in fact they gave me a few things to think about after I put the book down.  Even now, I’m not totally sure about the inclusion of the fae – and yet at the same time I loved their presence, I just wanted to see more of their slippery self-centred trickiness.  But, all things being equal this is primarily Marian’s story and in that respect this story is a great success.  Marian is the lovely character that I expected, she’s compassionate and warm, loving and at the same time tough and able.  I loved that she had magic and I loved the slight back stories to some of the other characters such as Little John.  This is a story that looks at the lore of the past, when people were much more superstitious and when the ‘others’ were something to be avoided at all costs and I love the way that those old tales are woven into this old favourite filling it with new possibility.

This isn’t really a tale of the Merry Men, it’s not all fun and japes, but it does take the legend into a new direction that was unexpectedly good to read.

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

Blog blast _ 5th September

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty

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 : The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty.

EmpireofThe final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

Expected publication: February 2020

Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

Posted On 3 September 2019

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MissingPersonMissing Person was my third book by Sarah Lotz and I can’t deny that it was a book that I couldn’t wait to pick up.  This is an author who can really break out the goosebumps with her creepy horror.  That being said, this is a slight step away from that style.  I would suggest if you’re picking this one up having read the previous books maybe just adjust your expectations a little.  This is a much more subtle form of horror, the type that leaves you thinking – it could just happen.

This is a story of, no surprise, missing people.  The sort of story that is scary simply by the fact that these are people who have gone off, moved somewhere else, away from family or friends, for whatever reason and have been murdered – but nobody is aware of their disappearance,  They’ve simply gone, lying abandoned somewhere whilst life ticks on without their presence and if their bodies are found it’s unlikely that they will be ever be identified.  Just another John or Jane Doe.

Strangely enough Shaun Ryan has lived his life believing his uncle Teddy died in a car accident until he finds out that this was not true.  Families and secrets – Shaun’s family, following one of those arguments that feels difficult to come back from, sent Teddy away.  He went to America to make a fresh start and everyone was led to believe he’d passed away.  So Shaun goes in search of clues, dreaming of maybe visiting his uncle and even thinking it could be the start of something new for himself.  He posts the only picture he has of his uncle and starts asking questions that lead in an unexpected direction.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or back over the pond in the US, Christina Guzman runs a site called Missinglinc – this started as a hobby after her own mother went missing and she was desperate for information, any information, as to her whereabouts.  Her mom’s details are still posted on the site but to date no new information has been found.  The site however has gained support with new people joining in in the amaterur sleuthing and one of them has spotted Teddy’s picture and connected the dots to one of the cases on the Missinglinc forum.  Not good news for Shaun if this suspicion turns out to be correct, Teddy’s only just come back from the dead but it seems it was only a temporary respite.

Now, as the story goes along we meet a few more people, primarily Chris who runs the site and a couple of others who make active contributions. Ellie who has a bit of a history with Chris already and stopped taking part on the site when things went wrong, and a couple of other users – of most note – the murderer!  People are always claiming that the murderer returns to the scene of the crime but here he actively takes part in the chats about missing people to keep his finger on the pulse, see if he’s in any danger of being found out.

I love the way Sarah Lotz writes, she has a very appealing style and makes great characterisation and scene setting appear to be all too easy.  Add to that the epistolary format this is used quite a bit for parts of the story with text messages, newspaper articles and group chats – well, I make no mistake that this is a format that I really enjoy, sifting through the different bits and pieces to find out the underlying messages, and it’s used to excellent effect here.

The characters are what really make this story though, Shaun, Chris and Ellie are all given really good back stories and feel like every day, regular characters who make mistakes but keep on plugging away.  The inclusion of chapters from the murderer’s pov adds a sinister element to the story, particularly because you’re not 100% certain which online character he might be.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this takes quite a while to lay the groundwork necessary, which isn’t to say it’s a slow read at all because it succeeded in hooking me in almost immediately, but it does take it’s time to get to know everybody – which, when all is said and done is something that I appreciate.  However, given the time that is taken in setting the scene and luring us into this spidery web of deceit the ending felt a little anti climatic and over all too soon.  The other thing that I would say, and this is more about personal taste than actual criticism, is that this doesn’t quite work as well for me as The White Road.  It’s a good read, it’s compelling, gripping in some parts and it certainly succeeds as a lifelike mystery story – but it didn’t give me the heebie jeebies or have that slight supernatural element that I was hoping for – which again is my bad really because I made my own assumptions going into the read.

However, if you want to read a compelling, character driven mystery that does kind of make you view the internet with a bit of trepidation and is a story that feels very ‘real’ then I would recommend this.  It’s not quite the horror that I was expecting but nonetheless it’s a very good read.

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

Rating 3.5 of 5 stars

 

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