Tag Archives: men

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Review 

Read no further if you haven’t read the first book Outlander as there will be spoilers from the first novel, but none from Dragonfly in Amber

I really enjoyed Outlander where I was swept into the world of Claire and Jamie Fraser. Claire travels back through time to the 1700s where she meets a young highlander Jamie Fraser who she falls in love with. These are hefty books but beautifully written with amazing language, wonderfully put together passages of language. 

We return to this world in Dragonfly in Amber but twenty years on, Claire is back in the 1960s with a grown up daughter, returning to Scotland to reveal several truths that will blow the worlds of those near to her wide open. But fear not avid readers, we return to Claire’s memories to find out what happened next in her love saga with Jamie.

This sequel has all the passion of the first book in the series but tinged with sadness, knowing that Claire is back in present day means that the reader is second guessing how this could have happened and what may happen next. Some of the old friends and foes return and in places it’s a case of life and death! It’s another bulky novel but it doesn’t feel that way because of how engrossed you become in the storyline and needing to know what happens next. 

From a historical fiction lover’s viewpoint, I was really enamoured with understanding the rising of ’44 and the historical perspective not only of Bonnie Prince Charlie who I had heard of but never really studied, but also the court of the Parisian King Louis and his followers. It was interesting to see how much more advanced the French were in those days than the English. For example, I’m sure this doesn’t count as a spoiler but there is a very funny scene where Claire’s French friend gets her to wax her legs and armpits and Jamie’s reaction to this is just hilarious. I can’t wait to start Voyager

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory. Review 

It all started with The Cousins War or at least it did for, my love of Philippa Gregory came when I cut my teeth on the White Queen, The Red Queen, Lady of the Rivers etc. Then of course the story began to merge with the Tudors. With the release of The Last Tudor (check back for a review on that coming soon) it made sense that I should finally get around to reading The King’s Curse. It’s a pretty hefty novel coming in at over 500 pages, and rightly so as it details the long life of one of the forgotten players in the Tudor/Plantagenet history; Margaret Pole. Beloved tutor of Princess Mary and friend to Queen Katherine of Aragon. 

Margaret saw a lot in her 67 years, a long time to live in those days. This story picks up after the fall of the Plantagenet family from the Royal Household and Margaret’s undying loyalty to her cousin the Queen, married to Henry VII. Margaret was a key player in the Tudor’s story, Prince Arthur lived with her and her husband until his death, she became friends with, and defended Katherine of Aragon and fell constantly in and out of favour with both Henry VII and Henry VIII, fearing constantly that death and danger were stalking her family because of their name, and their royal blood. 

Through Margaret’s eyes, we watch the child Prince Harry, first turn the half destroyed and neglected kingdom around from his father’s rule, to becoming the harsh tyrant who ripped apart the church, the faith of the country and tore down the monasteries, not to mention the divorcing, beheading and casting aside of his wives in his obsession to beget a male heir on one of them. We see the bitter, twisted control of the Boleyn family as they strive for greatness through the vicious Anne, a very different perspective from the one given by Anne and her family in Philippa’s earlier book. 

The novel, despite being long, is well put together and it is clear, as always that Philippa Gregory has considerably researched her subject. Although some of the storyline is not known to be completely factual (this is a work of fiction after all), Philippa does use rumours and presumptions as well as modern scientific and medical research to form her opinions and plots. 

I really enjoyed this, as I do all of the Plantagenet / Tudor hybrid novels, I’m just sad that after The Last Tudor it will all be coming to an end! 

Behind Closed Doors by Kathryn Croft. Review. 

I want to say initially that having seen some of the really bad reviews of this book on Goodreads, I really cannot understand them. I get that everyone’s entitled to their opinions but it’s really lost on me, how, if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers you couldn’t enjoy this book. 

Now that’s out of the way, I want to say a little something about Kathryn Croft. I was first introduced to her when I read her novel While You Were Sleeping last year. Kathryn started out as a self published author but was soon snapped up by publishers Bookouture, and there’s a reason for that. Kathryn is a really good author and writes fantastic psychological thrillers. She’s also a really great person and you can read my interview with her here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/author-interview-kathryn-croft/

As well as my positive reviews of the other two novels I’ve read by her here: 

While You Were Sleeping: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/while-you-were-sleeping-by-kathryn-croft-review/

The Stranger Within: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/the-stranger-within-by-kathyrn-croft-review/

Now, Behind Closed Doors is one of the novels Kathryn wrote as a self published author which means she wrote, edited and marketed that book herself. Which frankly to me makes it even more amazing! I really enjoyed it start to finish and couldn’t put it down! 

Olivia has just got divorced from her husband and moved into a flat with her 10 year old daughter Ellie. Soon after moving in, she befriends and becomes close to their upstairs neighbour Michael. But things start going downhill from there, Michael can be a little strange at times and Ellie hates his sister Chloe. To top it off, Olivia is having to deal with an ex-husband who doesn’t want to let her go, and now she’s got a stalker as well. As things start to get even weirder, Olivia doesn’t know where to turn or who she can trust anymore. Who is really out to get her? 

This novel was a real page turner. What baffled me most was that a lot of previous reviewers said the ending was obvious. I simply cannot agree, there were plenty of red herrings thrown in and just like our first person narrator Olivia, I didn’t have a clue who to trust, no sooner did I think I’d worked it out, I became suspicious of someone else. I did start to work out who it was eventually but not until about 95% of the way through, and even then I wasn’t expecting that ending! I’m still reeling and pretty certain I’ll have a book hangover for a few days while I try and process that! 

Well done Kathryn on another suspenseful, psychological thriller! 

Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft. Review

This book has been on my TBR for ages after I read a piece about the author in Writer’s Mag. Her Last Tomorrow has an intriguing premise; would you kill your wife to save your daughter? 

Nick and Tasha’s lives fall apart when their 5 year old daughter Ellie disappears one morning. Then Nick receives an email ‘kill your wife if you want your daughter back.’ 

The premise was really clever, the kidnapper was a complete surprise and the novel was written well. It was certainly gripping as the reader wonders what will happen next, what will Nick decide, will he kill his wife? Will he get his daughter back? 

The only thing that bothered me about this novel was that I couldn’t really connect with either of the main characters who were both very self-centred and didn’t really come across as that bothered that their daughter had gone missing. I also found parts of it very unrealistic. 

But overall I enjoyed it, it did have a great psychological twist and was very fast paced. 

July Book Haul 

Where has this month gone?? Not a huge one this month and it’s going to be getting much smaller as I’m trying to read the books I have before I buy anymore, we’ll see if I stick to that though! 

So here we go! I hauled 27 books this month including ARCs. 

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson 

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 

Frostblood by Elly Blake 

Fireblood by Elly Blake 

The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid 

Final Girls by Riley Sager 

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall 

The Break by Marian Keyes 

The Overneath by Peter S Beagle 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 

Gilded Cage by Vic James 

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris 

Orphan Sisters by Lola Jaye 

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon 

My Not so Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella 

Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 

Above Suspicion by Lynda La Plante 

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante 

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris 

Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas 

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas 

Final Girls by Riley Sager. Review. 

‘I’m here to teach you how to be a final girl.’ 
We’ve all heard of final girls. Even if we don’t know them by that name. They’re the girls who survive a massacre in a horror movie. The ones that live by some miracle instead of being slaughtered like all of their friends. 

Quincy Carpenter, Lisa Milner, Samantha Boyd. They all have one thing in common. They all survived a massacre that killed everyone else. Quincy is finally living some kind of normal life, she has a successful baking blog, a lawyer boyfriend whom she’s sure will propose soon and a dedicated friend in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. 

But then the first Final Girl Lisa is found dead in her home, suspected suicide, and Samantha turns up out of the blue at Quincy’s house, allegedly wanting to be friends while putting her in dangerous situations. 

The first thing I want to say about Final Girls is that it has a really good twist. I was sure I’d worked it out more than once, swapping and changing my ideas but certain that at least one of them was correct. But I was wrong. I’m a sucker for a red herring after all! 

The novel is a very easy read, just over 300 pages and I got through it fairly quickly, it helped that the storyline was a page turner! I’ve read other reviews which say it went on about baking too much, I disagree I didn’t feel that it did at all, and in fact the baking was part of Quincy’s life, her job after all and since when do author’s not include info dumps about characters jobs? Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up in case it was putting anyone off reading. 

I found this novel to be a good representation of a psychological thriller along the lines of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. It wasn’t exciting in as much as gripping because it made you think. I was racking my brains as to how certain things could have happened to fit my theories. It was a bit like being Sherlock Holmes for the evening! Other than that I can’t really say much more without spoilers so I’m keeping Schtum! 

Thank you to Ebury Publishing for my copy of Final Girls in exchange for an honest review. 

Forgotten YA Gems 

I decided to write this post as I’ve recently bought loads of my old childhood books to read again, it made me think about what my favourite books were and a conversation with my lovely friend (and author) Lauren McNeil made me realise that not only could I help other people remember their favourites but I could also recommend some oldie but goodie fantasy novels which may have become ‘forgotten’. So here are a few of my favourites from my official ‘YA’ time I hope you find some that you remember and maybe some new ones to enjoy too! 

The Prophecy of the Gems by Flavia Bujor was a book which stayed with my all my life because Flavia wrote this book when she was only 13!! 13 and she had a published novel, as an aspiring teen writer she was my idol! Anyway, the premise is three girls; Amber, Opal and Jade who are chosen to fill an ancient Prophecy on the fourteenth birthdays. The girls set out on a quest in a magical realm called Fairytale. Magic rules there and evil is completely unknown… meanwhile in the real world, or a parallel universe as it is known in the book, a young girl named Jo is in a coma and dreaming of three girls completing an epic quest, only armed with their magical stones. Fairytale’s fate lies with them… 

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism was a firm favourite of mine growing up although I only read the first two. Molly lives in an orphanage and isn’t treated very well, when she finds a book of Hypnotism her life changes dramatically for the better and the fun really begins. 

The World of Chrestomanci by Dianna Wynne Jones. This is a 6 book series of which I read the first four and now have the last two to read. Magic, mayhem, rules about magic, parallel worlds, doppelgängers, this series has it all and it’s wonderfully magical from start to finish. 

The Wind on Fire Trilogy by William Nicholson, I’ve just finished re-reading there and they were just as awesome the second time round. The Manth people live in the shadow of the Windsinger which no longer sings after they were attacked by the Morah. But twins Bow and Kestrel set out to save the day and bring the Windsinger’s voice back. 

The Arthur Series by Kevin Crossley-Holland. If you like your action packed stories with a hint of magic and fortune telling them these are the Arthur book for you, blurring the lines between children and adult fiction these are a great alternative tale to the traditional Arthurian Legends. 

I probably don’t need to actually say that this is forgotten,  because I know there’s loads of other Le Guin fans out there but believe it or not some people genuinely haven’t heard of her or her amazing books. This is absolutely one of my favourite series. This series follows the story of the wizard Ged (same name as my boyfriend by the way complete coincidence I promise). Ged who becomes known as Sparrowhawk, is a talented magician and soon becomes an archmage. There’s plenty of good vs evil and the series has been described as on a par with Tolkien and CS Lewis. 

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle is an absolute classic and really appeals to any age! It’s also an amazing film and one of my absolute favourite books and films of all time. The story of a Unicorn who believes she is the Last Unicorn in the world. Cue an epic adventure involving a bumbling magician and a King’s curse. 

The Earthaven Series by Katherine Roberts begins with Spellfall which is a wonderful story of magic and curses, kidnapping, spells and an enchanted world full of spell Lords and giant giant soul trees. The follow up book Spellspring was published 15 years later in 2016. 

The Magician’s House Series by William Corlett, three siblings find themselves in a mysterious house for the school holidays where they enter The Magician’s House and a world of magic unfolds. The children become the Magician’s students and epic adventures begin. 

Another series that perhaps doesn’t need to be listed under ‘forgotten’ especially with the new one coming out in October (yay!) but this is another of my absolute favourites. His Dark Materials what I loved most about the series is the fact that everyone has a Dæmon, a little animal which belongs to them, like their soul but on the outside. Lyra travels around her parallel world to save her friend. 

The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. Surprisingly few people have read Hess or even heard of them and yet I personally consider Garth Nix to be one of the greatest authors in the genre of all time. Sabriel, Lireal, Abhorsen were all books I read when I was younger and I have since happily enjoyed Across the Wall, Clariel, Goldenhand and To Hold the Bridge.  The Old Kingdom are fantastic tales of an amazing fantasy world where evil is close and visits to death are like visits to the local shop.

Not exactly Fantasy but definitely YA the Sally Lockhart Series by Philip Pullman is another great series by this author. Set in Victorian London these are stories of mystery, penny dreadfuls, opium dens and the dark secrets of Asian culture at a time when it was pretty much unknown. Absolutely fascinating. They’re engrossing I’ll warn you! 

Finally Artemis Fowl I only ever read the first three books although I see now there have been many others. Eoin Colfer’s twelve year old millionaire, genius protagonist mixes science and futuristic technology with magic for an eclectic but fascinating story. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favourites and hopefully reconnected with some of yours. Please feel free to comment your own recommendations!