The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Posted On 3 December 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 13 responses

huntingBefore I get to the meat of this review I can say upfront that I had a great time reading this – it has a cosy murder mystery feel to it, if, that is, you can liken being snowed into a very remote Scottish country retreat with a dead body cosy.  I just blasted through this, it was entertaining, well written and compelling and I really didn’t want to put it down.

I would also mention that this isn’t speculative fiction.  It’s a straight up murder mystery with an Agatha Christie type feel, plenty of red herrings and a group of friends who aren’t quite as close as they think.

The story is told in two different timeframes – very close together but one in which we jump forward a couple of days and a dead body has been discovered and the other set a few days earlier as the party of friends make their way across country to arrive at the lodge they’ve booked for their New Year’s shindig.  We also have a few narrators.  Two of the employees, Heather and Doug, who run the lodge and 3 of the friends, Miranda, Emma and Katie.  The story is told in such a way that for a large portion of the book the reader is unaware of who has been murdered – although it doesn’t stop you from guessing of course.

I think the author succeeds in a number of ways.

Firstly, setting.  A remote lodge set within many acres of land and very little wifi signal, even less when in the middle of a serious snow storm which occurs during the time the guests are in situ.  The guests stay in individual style chalets and the celebrations take place in an ultra modern, all glass structure that helps to increase the tension.  The guests are sometimes outside by themselves going to and fro and on top of that there’s a feeling of being watched which is exacerbated by the all the glass and the slight feeling of fear generated by the fact that a serial murderer seems to be stalking the neighbourhood.  In placing the setting in such a difficult to reach place the author manages to convey a sense of isolation and a feeling of menace and in cutting the guests off from their phones, social media and other means of contacting the outside world succeeds in giving them the sense of being stranded or abandoned – a feeling that is increased further when the snow storm sets in and prevents travel to or from the lodge.

Then there’s the characters.  Both Doug and Heather have secrets in their past which have driven them to accept jobs in such isolated circumstances.  They’re both running away from something and what that is is slowly revealed during the course of the story.  The guests are a bunch of thirty somethings.  The majority of them have known each other since their university days, Katie and Miranda’s friendship goes back even further.  They’re all living their own lives now, for the most part successful in their careers, one couple with a baby daughter but they still come together for these occasions – almost determined to have fun!  On the face of it this is a group who share a lot of history, they like to have a good time, they know each other well, who likes to party hard, who the quiet one is, but, with all this history comes not just good memories but also sometimes long held resentments, jealousies and indiscretions. This is a group of people growing apart but are not quite ready to accept it.  A group of people who if they met now, at this age, they probably wouldn’t be friends.  They’re together because of a long history but sometimes the ugly side of that history pops out and as a result it casts suspicion on more than one character providing lots of red herrings.

Quite a large portion of the story revolves around Miranda.  She plays the queen bee.  Golden, beautiful, dazzling, unexpectedly generous but ruthlessly bitchy.  She has the ability to light up a room.  She can put on the charm at will.  Yes, we’ve seen this sort of character before although what I particularly like about Miranda is that she also has something of a vulnerable streak and as she narrates some of the chapters this comes across quite well.  At the same time the whole group do seem to be a little bit in her shadow and in fact even when you’re reading from one of the other narrators they’re usually thinking about her.

Overall, that’s probably all I can tell you without giving away plot points.  The writing is good, the pace is fast and the story kept me guessing all the way through – and honestly, I didn’t see what was coming but I did have a great deal of fun jumping around from character to character as the author twisted me round in circles giving me first one suspect, then another and then yet another.  On the strength of this novel I would definitely pick up more by this author.

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

Advertisements

#SPFBO 2018 : Batch 5, Books 1-6

Posted On 2 December 2018

Filed under #SPFBO, Book Reviews
Tags: , ,

Comments Dropped 16 responses

SPFBo.png

As mentioned in my post here as part of the SPFBO competition I’ll be randomly choosing six books per month for the next five months, I will then aim to check out at least the first 30% of each book during that month – this is my fifth and final month.  Each month I’ve posted information about the first three books chosen at the start of the month and then about the remaining three during the mid way point with a conclusion around the end of the month about which books will be going forward or which will be eliminated.  The conclusion for my first, second, third and fourth month’s reading can be found herehere, here and here. Ultimately, the aim is to choose one book from the thirty I’ve been assigned – that chosen one will then be my finalist.

I’m taking a slightly different approach to my next batch of books – not in terms of the reading element, just that I’m posting my final six books as one batch and I’m aiming to post my outcome of the final batch by the 10th all going well (and I have already made a start).  This gives me plenty of time then to go through those books I’ve rolled forward and decide upon my final book.

Books 1-6 in my fifth batch of books are as follows:

HighBarrensHigh Barrens by Alice Sabo

Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.

She can change a life or even the world with her words.

She should have kept her mouth shut.

Flint thought that having six older brothers and growing up in a dangerous frontier town would prepare her for anything. She soon discovers that the world is a lot more complex than she expected, and it’s going to take more than a strong back and good intentions to achieve her goals.

When it comes to magic, all the wishes in the world won’t change who you really are. And sometimes that’s okay

 

ParagonParagon by K.D Wloch

The future is uncertain. The era of god-slaying heroes like Kato is gone, and the people of the Four Realms have spent years recovering from war. But now, thanks to the ruins of the vanished Forerunners and close to unlocking their secrets, they are on the cusp of a new age.

It is now that Dan finds himself dismissed from the militia without reason. At the same time a village has been burned and his home is no longer safe. Ruins have been discovered, people are disappearing, and a man claims to be the reincarnation of Kato himself. People wait to see if he will be captured, killed – or become famous. But as Dan flees the danger, he starts to learn why Kato’s legacy is so dividing, why it is linked to the fall of an entire people – and why, now of all times, he is having dreams of a life he had never live

 

DeadmarshDeadmarsh Fay by Melika Dannese Lux

Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…
Fated to die.

 

SongsofSongs of Insurrection by J.C Kang

Only the lost art of evoking magic through music can prevent Cathay from descending into chaos.

Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when a song liberated enslaved humans from their orc masters. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool.

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing rebellion, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.

Obediently wedding the depraved rebel leader means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

 

ArgenterraArgenterra by Donna Maree Hanson

Every one hundred years a woman comes to Argenterra through the Crystal Tree Woods. This time two women came…

While on a ghost tour in Castle Crioch, Sophy and her best friend and foster sister, Aria, are sucked into the world of Argenterra, where they encounter a strange Crystal Tree. Two leaves fall from it, one of which Aria catches and the other mysteriously delves into Sophy’s chest.

Met by Dellbright, the prince of Valley Keep, and Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, the girls learn they are expected. Aria has beauty and talent with the given, the land’s native magic. She finds a home and a husband in Prince Dellbright and is revered as the legendary Gift of Crystal Tree Woods.
Sophy is out of place as anything made with the given makes her ill.

Sophy accompanies Oakheart to the capital to find out why the crystal leaf is in her chest. A sinister force is tracking her—trying to snatch her away or kill her. Only Oakheart suspects her importance: she is the talisman that can cause great harm to the world of Argenterra if she falls into the wrong hands.

The Silverlands Series Overview
In a land where oaths can’t be broken be careful what promises you make.
To break the binding oath is to risk the very magic of Argenterra.

Vorn and the first comers fleeing death and destruction came to Argenterra through the Crystal Gate. On arrival, they made a binding oath to not kill and in return the land gave them the given, a native magic. For over a thousand years they have prospered but now the ancient evil seeks Vorn’s descendants and reaches a hand into the land.

Oaths are bound with the given and every promise must be kept or the land’s magic will compel completion of the oath or prevent its breaking. Only a murder can sunder the binding oath. In his later years, Vorn prophesied that a time would come when the land would be ungiven. That time is near.

 

HeartotDHeart of the Destroyer by Kent Corlain

A disturbing tale of dark fantasy.

Ashley is not a hero living in a world of darkness.
She is the worst person you could ever meet.

This is the story of her life, and of the death of others.

She has been trained as an assassin, but killing is not just a profession for her. Not when she gets to kill pretty girls. Has she met her match in a wayward princess with venomous habits, or will unimaginable terror from beyond the stars destroy them both?

This is not a typical fantasy adventure, so this book is not recommended to people who are against graphic descriptions of immoral debauchery. This is a nasty story about nasty people in the realm of swords and sorcery.

#SPFBO End of Month Update

Posted On 1 December 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 20 responses

blackThe fourth month of the SPFBO has come to an end which means I now only have six more books to consider.  As with the previous months I chose a further six books at random to check during the course of November with the intention of reading at least 30% of each one.  As the month got underway I posted about the books chosen and you can find out more information about them and their authors here and here.  The aim of today’s post is to provide an update on my reading progress and also to decide which book/s have been chosen to stay in the contest after the fourth month.  I really don’t like this part of the competition, I don’t like cutting books and I feel bad for the authors of the books that are being cut but this is a competition and I only have one space.  So, these are my thoughts this month with deepest apologies to all the authors whose books have been cut to date, I can’t deny that these were really difficult decisions and there’s obviously an element on occasion of ‘it’s not you it’s me’.  I’ve provided ratings for the books, but these are based on the first third of the book and therefore could be subject to change.

For this particular batch of books I’m rolling one book forward.

The next 5 books that I will be cutting are as follows with a short review of my thoughts on each:

Clockworld1. Clockworld by Ben Myatt

I must say that I found Clockworld very easy to read and it is definitely a book that I will read fully and review.  As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Mouse, a tunnel runner, as he undertakes a job deep within the underbelly of the City.  Life is tough for Mouse but he has a good reputation and is a hardy and likable character.  Far above, in the higher echelons of the City is Princess Aldreia, not a lover of court politics the Princess is treated with little respect by most of the nobles and courtiers and prefers to escape the trials of Court even if it is to take part in lessons about the history of the city.  These two characters will eventually cross paths.  Of course, at the point at which I read up to the two have barely met.  What I do know is that things are taking place,  Whisperings and conspiracies, all centred around the Clock and the religion it inspires.  I enjoyed Clockworld with its steampunk feel and two young protagonists who appear to be on the brink of becoming it’s saviours.

I would rate this book a strong 3.5 to the point at which I stopped reading.

thebastardfromThe Bastard from Fairyland by Phil Parker

Another book that I fully intend to return to.  Robin is one of the fae, betrayed and banished from the fae realm he now lives amongst humans, in what appears to be an almost post apocalyptic style world – where rising sea levels have caused devastation.  He keeps himself remote – the humans dislike him and obviously he can’t return to his own kind – but, it seems some of his own kind are about to come looking for him, or more to the point the information he has regarding the whereabouts of a couple of would-be knights.  I liked what I read up to with the split between the fae and the human world.  I’m definitely intrigued to read more but with the 30% cut off in mind the story hadn’t developed quite enough to take it to the next stage.  It’s a conundrum because at the end of the day I don’t want to penalise an author for having a good set up and paying attention to the world building, or even for taking the time to develop the characters, but, I do have a cut off point and so whilst this book was really starting to take off it’s going to be one I return to to complete at a later date.

I would rate this as 3.5 of 5 stars to the point at which I stopped reading.

Sorcerers'IsleSorcerers’ Isle by DP Prior

Sorcerer’s Isle is dark fantasy.  It’s bleak and a bit brutal so bear that in mind.  The story is taken forward by two MCs.  The first is Snaith Harrow.  Snaith hopes to prove himself in the warrior trials and marry the girl he loves.  Tey Moonshine is the young woman who has caught Snaith’s heart.  Tey is a troubled young woman.  Brought up in an abusive home she seems not only to hear voices from within but has also carved sigils into virtually all her skin at the insistence of these voices.  It seems that Snaith and Tey’s paths are fated to intertwine although at the point I read up to I’m not sure exactly how (by which I mean, they’ve already met but Tey is about to be sent away).  Following a terrible accident at the trials both were injured and the clan sorcerer, Theurig takes an interest in the magical abilites of both – if magic is to be believed that is.  I think the writing here is good and it definitely pulled me along, the pacing is a little slow and so I can’t really say too much more in terms of plot up to the point I read.  My main problem is that this does feel rather bleak and on top of that, at the moment, I’m not really endeared to either character although they could work their magic if I read further.

I would rate this as a 3 out of 5 at the point at which I stopped reading.

VictorVictor Boone Will Save Us by David Joel Stevenson

I have to say from the outset that this is a book that made me laugh.  It’s a bit of a tongue in cheek take on the super hero trope.  Victor Boone is the superhero that never was.  Basically, the real superhero is Robby Willis but Robby is so shy that he can’t stand any sort of attention.  In a strange twist, in which Robby actually saves someone but Victor takes the credit, a partnership is formed in which Robby uses his abilities to help save people but Victor takes the credit and is the on-screen presence – that is until he’s murdered and someone discovers Robby’s secret.  So many tropes being poked fun at – I really did enjoy what I read and I would like to know what happens next for Robby.  At the point I read up to I wouldn’t say that the plot had sufficiently advanced to take this book forward but even now writing this review I’m smiling.  Yes, I would continue to read this just to see what happens next.

3.5 of 5 stars to the point I read up to.

SangrookThe Sangrook Saga by Steve Thomas 

As it says in the summary the Sangrooks ruled half the world until their defeat.  At least it was believed they were defeated when in actual fact that wasn’t the case.  Some of the Sangrooks remained alive.  The start of the story brings to us two brothers, one twisted and brought old before his time with the use of dark magic.  The other brother seems to conspire against his brother.  The older, more wasted brother is reckless, he kills and tortures with abandon, collecting any descendants of the Sangrook family to try and take their power by binding their souls to his.  The Sangrook Saga is only a fairly short book – I think just over 200 pages and I understand it’s divided into a number of stories about the Sangrooks through the ages.  It’s not a book that would ultimately work for me, it errs more on the side of horror, at least the chapters I read, but, the writing is good and I admit that I’m intrigued as to where the story will go – although secretly I suspect it may remain on the bleak side – almost like a cautionary tale.  If you fancy a quick read, a number of shortish stories, connected through family and history, a bit grim and brutal and bloody then this could work better for you than it does for me.

I would rate this as a 3 out of 5 to the point at which I finished reading.

The book I am rolling forward is:

Under Ordshaw by Phil Williams

Under

 

 

November : My Month in Review

Posted On 30 November 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags:

Comments Dropped 12 responses

Oh my giddy aunt – December is almost upon us.  I am not prepared for this at all.  I will not panic – I do not panic, I may sometimes need to take deep, steadying breaths of fresh air but panicking is not the thing.  Where is 2018 going to though – into a black hole I think.  Anyways.  I’ve read 8 books this month.  I’ve also completed my fourth batch of SPFBO books and my update will hopefully be posted tomorrow.  I’m stepping up the pace for December.  I’m going to post my final 6 books as one batch and aim to read them by the middle of the month with an update, that way I can read my semi finalists and choose a winner.  Phew!  What’s that saying, The best laid plans….something, something, something – I can do this – I just need to concentrate on the deep breathing mentioned above.  My lovely looking covers for the month can be found here. Here’s my month in review:

Books read:  this month = 8 (with reviews linked)

  1. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
  2. An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
  3. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
  4. Dragonshadow (Heartstone #2) by Elle Katharine White
  5. Someone Like Me by MR Carey
  6. Songwoman by Ilka Tampke
  7. Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean – review to follow
  8. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – review to follow

What’ve you been reading??

Backlist books

None.

Unfinished series completed:

None.

Books Bought: 

  1. The Lost Plot (The Invisible Library series Book 4) Genevieve Cogman

lostplot.jpg

Review Books

  1. The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  2. The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan
  3. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
  4. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  5. A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher
  6. Across the Void by SK Vaughn
  7. The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
  8. The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan
  9. Fog Season by Patrice Sarath
  10. The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  11. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters

This does look like a lot of review books but, in fairness, they’re spread out in terms of publish dates and there were a couple on here that I wasn’t expecting – i.e one I forgot I’d asked for and one I thought I’d been declined! Ahem….

So, moving on.  Cover compare:

I think I prefer the first of these – I know it doesn’t give much away but I like the colours and overall feel.   Not sure what to make of that huge pin!  Thoughts??

Finally, the SPFBO.  The fourth month is coming to an end and I should have my update posted tomorrow.  I’m posting the final six months as one batch and will hopefully have an update on my final fifth batch by, at the latest, 15th December – then I need to choose my finalist – sounds so easy doesn’t it!

Friday Face Off : “..the children of the night. What music they make!”

Posted On 30 November 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 8 responses

FFO.jpg

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. This week’s theme:

“..the children of the night. What music they make!” – a cover with a vampire

I think there should be lots to choose from with this week’s theme.  I’ve gone for a YA series that I read way back and enjoyed at the time, it was very light and fun, a bit Buffy(ish) maybe.  Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires #1) by Rachel Caine.

And the covers:

My favourite this week is the goth girl cover because it particularly suits one of the characters:

GH1

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 I can visit and check out your covers.  Thanks

Next week – A cover featuring a hero

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

7th December – ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

14th December -“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”  – A cover featuring a crown

21st December – ‘ho, ho, ho’ – A seasonal cover

28th December – A freebie – choose one of your favourite titles and compare the covers

2019

4th January – A cover that is fresh – New beginnings for a New Year

11th January – ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king’ – A cover that depicts a novel set in the Tudor period

18th January – A cover featuring an Amulet – either in the cover or title

25th January – ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’ – A cover featuring a monk/priest/person of the cloth

1st February – A comedy cover

8th February – ‘Hi little cub. Oh no, don’t be ssscared.’ – A cover with snakes

15th February – A heart – for Valentine’s day past

22nd February – “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – A cover with abandoned building/s

1st March – ‘who will buy this wonderful morning’ – A cover featuring a shop or market

8th March – ‘Two little fishes and a momma fishy too’ – A cover featuring a fish/fishes or other sea creatures

15th March – ‘Beware the moon, lads.’ – A cover with a shapeshifter

22nd March – ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’ – A cover featuring a king

29th March – “I thought unicorns were more . . . Fluffy.”  – A cover featuring a unicorn

5th April – ‘nomad is an island’ – A cover featuring a desert landscape

12th April – ‘Odin, Odin, send the wind to turn the tide – A cover featuring a longboat

19th April – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – A cover featuring a school

« Previous PageNext Page »