Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

Ensnared by Rita Stradling

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rita Stradling has a BA in Art History and a particular interest in modern and medieval art.

Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California. Her seven-year old son wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.

She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.

DESCRIPTION:

A Near-Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast 

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five-year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

[This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+]

REVIEW:

PUT AND END TO MY MISERY ALREADY! I GIVE UP. I DO NOT INTEND ON FINISHING THIS SCI-FI PIECE OF PORN… EXCUSE THE LANGUAGE. BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GOOD OLD FASHIONED SCI-FI WHERE YOU FIND PHILOSOPHY INTERWINED WITH ALIENS, STARGAZING, SUPERNOVAS, ROBOTS AND BATTLES. WHO ALLOWED YOU GUYS TO HARLEQUIN THE GENRE.

I AM DISGUSTED. WHEN ONE BUYS A SCI-FI NOVEL IT SETS A CERTAIN STANDARD; CERTAIN EXPECTATIONS AND ABOVE ALL CERTAIN DECENCY.

NOW, that I have said all of this. The novel is not badly written. It evolves quickly, the characters, although mediocre, evoke sympathy and ones in a while put a smile on your face. Lets just don’t categorize this novel as Sci-fi, I beg of you. It is a love story/perversion that evolves in the future realm. But it is a harlequin for me.

2FOXGIVEN

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Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. Rattle is her first novel.

DESCRIPTION:

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

REVIEW:

I suppose I have been in a weird mood lately, I mean terrifying literature on the row is likely to be classified as disturbing. Regardless, I have been extremely lucky with the choice of stories to engage my spare time with.

The story is delivered through multiple viewpoints. So we see the marriage faultlines and despair of Amy and Miles Foyle as Clara is taken. We feel the strain that having Jakey and the demands his condition has wrought on Lilith and Erdman’s marriage and the excruciating impact his disappearance has on them. Erdman is trying to survive the pressures of his job and failing, his love for Jakey leads him to try and find the serial killer. Fitzroy is driven and determined to catching the perpetrator, belatedly discovering his calling card. She desperately wants a child and her marriage is disintegrating. We only learn the name of the bone collector late in the story, lending him an insidious quality and a certain invisibility. This heightens the air of menace and fear the reader experiences. We are given an insight into his disturbing family background and how he learnt his macabre craft from his father.

Kudos to miss Cummins for writing a compelling serial killer thriller that I want to read about more, did not want this to end. 5FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

25365530ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse in both hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in West London.

DESCRIPTION:

SET TO BE ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017 – for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction: once you read this book you’ll want to talk about it.

‘NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
NEW.
ME . ‘

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

Translated into over 20 languages, Good Me Bad Me is a tour de force. In its narrator, Milly Barnes, we have a voice to be reckoned with, and in its author, Ali Land, an extraordinary new talent.

Praise for Good Me Bad Me

‘An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages’ Matt Haig

‘Intelligent and disturbing, Good Me Bad Me had me hooked from the first page’ Debbie Howells, author of Richard & Judy book club bestseller The Bones of You

‘Milly’s voice is gripping and shocking. This is a book you will want to discuss with everyone you know’ Claire Douglas author of The Sisters and Local Girl Missing

‘This book is a work of twisted genius. It is going to be HUGE. Watch out for Ali Land’ Bryony Gordon

‘Unbelievably good, utterly gripping’ Jill Mansell, bestselling author of You & Me Always

REVIEW:

I  am always on the look for extraordinary debuts and this one easily caught my eye. I admit before even attempting to find it I did my research on Goodreads and I found a lot of fellow reviewers gave it credit. Many were saying that this book was going to be one of the more controversial novels released in 2017.

I categorize it as a chilling debut novel that does not flinch in the picture it paints of the traumatic consequences of a monstrous childhood for fifteen year old Millie.  It is scary, thrilling, yet perversely peculiar.

It is without a doubt a tough read. Being in the head space of Millie and all that she is going through with such intensity was an experience one rarely forgets. We are given an in depth, and complex character that feels truly authentic. Millie is a compelling character that keeps the reader gripped. There is tension and suspense in the story. A highly recommended read for those who like disturbing and unsettling psychological thrillers.

There were times when I felt I couldn’t read any further – I was anxious about any intimate details of the murders being revealed, yet I couldn’t stop reading. It is peculiar how human beings are drawn to such grisly matter. Thankfully, the author spared us the majority of what happened to these children. As you can imagine though, the subject matter makes for a harrowing read. That said, it was an excellent story, really well written, and the characters were unforgettable. Would definitely recommend.

5FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

Angelo Badalamenti’s Soundtrack from Twin Peaks by Clare Nina Norelli

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Clare Nina Norelli is an Australian writer, composer, and musician based in Melbourne who holds degrees in composition and musicology from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). She has composed music for ensembles and film, and her writing has appeared in publications such as Sound Scripts and SCAN: Journal of Media and Arts Culture.

DESCRIPTION:

When Twin Peaks debuted on the ABC network on the night of April 8, 1990, thirty-five million viewers tuned in to some of the most unusual television of their lives. Centered on an eccentric, coffee-loving FBI agent’s investigation into the murder of a small town teen queen, Twin Peaks brought the aesthetic of arthouse cinema to a prime time television audience and became a cult sensation in the process.

Part of Twin Peaks’ charm was its unforgettable soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti, a frequent and reoccurring collaborator of film director and Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch. Badalamenti’s evocative music, with its haunting themes and jazzy moodscapes, served as a constant in a narrative that was often unhinged and went on to become one of the most popular and influential television soundtracks of all time.

How did a unique collaborative process between a director and composer result in a perfectly post-modern soundtrack that ran the gamut of musical styles from jazz to dreamy pop to synthesizer doom and beyond? And how did Badalamenti’s musical cues work with Twin Peaks’ visuals, constantly evolving and having the ability to break with television convention; playing off viewers’ expectations and associations? Under the guidance of Angelo Badalamenti’s diverse sonic palette Clare Nina Norelli delves deep into the world of Twin Peaks to answer all of these questions and more.

REVIEW:

Now, it is better I come forward and admit I know nothing about music theory. I can read notes, and I have played the piano… but when it comes to harmony and theoretical knowledge I am the equivalent of a fish on land.

I requested this book because I’m a big fan of the TV show Twin Peaks. I expected it to be less theoretical than it is and more… enjoyable. It is a great read, if only I knew more on the subject so I can fully appreciate it.

Any Twin Peaks fan will love this book. It sets the history as well as gives you great insights. I was super impressed.

5FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some by Chris Edwards

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris made his advertising debut in 1993 as a copywriter at Arnold Worldwide, a high profile ad agency in Boston. There he used what he learned working in advertising along with his ever-present sense of humor to rebrand himself and orchestrate what was quite possibly the most widely accepted and embraced gender transition of its kind–at a time when the word “transgender” didn’t exist.

He eventually became more known for his creative talent than his transition. He was the first to use YouTube content in a TV spot with two guys rapping about McNuggets and is responsible for the earworm, Gimme back that Filet-O-Fish, gimme that fiiiiish. He was also part of the creative team on Truth, which was recently ranked one of the Top 15 Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century.

After building an award-winning career spanning nearly twenty years, Chris left his Arnold post as EVP, Group Creative Director to write his memoir, BALLS. Since then he’s become a sought-after speaker, inspiring audiences with his courageous story and compelling message that we actually have the power to control how others define us.

DESCRIPTION:

2016 SHELF AWARENESS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR IN NONFICTION

AMAZON BEST SELLER IN LGBT, TRANSGENDER, AND HUMOR

Changing your gender from female to male takes balls. And if you’re going to do it in front of 500 coworkers at one of the top ad agencies in the country, you better have a pretty big set!

At a time when the term “transgender” didn’t really exist, and with support from family, friends, and a great therapist, Chris Edwards endured 28 surgeries to become the man he always knew he was meant to be. He used what he learned working in advertising along with his ever-present sense of humor to rebrand himself and orchestrate what was quite possibly the most widely accepted and embraced gender transition of its kind. He’s a pioneer who changed the perception of an entire community, and his memoir, BALLS, will touch readers’ hearts and open their minds.

​Edwards is funny, brazen, and endearing, and BALLS is the hilarious and moving story about family, friends, and the courage to be your true self. It boldly and fearlessly goes where other trans memoirs haven’t. If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable in your own skin, for whatever reason, you will be inspired and empowered by this book.

REVIEW:

“The key to understanding gender dysphoria is realizing that sexual orientation and gender identity are two different and completely separate things. One isn’t dependent on the other. This is where most of the confusion happens– for everybody”.

Chris tells his story with lots of funny anecdotes, plenty of good gossipy sorts of references to the ad-world that he works in, and a lot of good-natured self-deprecation about how intensely self-absorbed he became during his transition. Credit where credit is due, too, especially to his parents who forked out a LOT of money to pay for the surgeries (and therapy!) to help him through it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this informative peek – no this privileged PERV – under the sheets, to see what he went through.

It’s also very entertaining. Early in the piece, the head of broadcast of the ad agency (his dad is the CEO) decided to inform her team what Chris was going through and that everyone was supporting him and they’d better watch their own backs if they didn’t!

Chris Edwards is an excellent story teller. Reading this memoir is like sitting on a comfy sofa with a drink and a snack talking to him. He does not hold back nor does he spin things to show how easy everything went. I really liked how numerous times he admitted that he was lucky to come from well off parents who were willing to help pay for all of his surgeries. He says he is a lucky one who was able to go for the deluxe model that most people can’t afford. There was no arrogance involved with these statements. In fact, I found Mr. Edwards to be very humble.

I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to be in the wrong body. After finishing Balls I am proud to say that I understand a lot more than I did going in. I love this quote: “The fact is gender identity is not defined by what’s inside your pants; it’s defined by what’s inside your brain.”

I laughed out loud in so many places and I will admit to cringing while reading about how a new penis is built. Transgender people are brave souls to be sure. I loved how Mr. Edwards faced everything with humility, grace and most importantly humor.

I have to say a big thank you to Chris Edwards for writing this book, bringing these issues out into the open where conversations can be started. Thank you for the laughs, the cringes and the education that I received from reading this book!

4FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

Every Mountain Made Low by Alex White

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alex White was born and raised in the American south. He takes photos, writes music and spends hours on YouTube watching other people blacksmith. He values challenging and subversive writing, but he’ll settle for a good time.

In the shadow of rockets in Huntsville, Alabama, Alex lives and works as an experience designer with his wife, son, two dogs and a cat named Grim. Favored past times include Legos and racecars. He takes his whiskey neat and his espresso black.

Alex is the author of THE SALVAGERS book series (Orbit, 2018), a magical space opera treasure hunt, and EVERY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW (Solaris, 2016), a dystopian Southern American tale.
DESCRIPTION:
Loxley Fiddleback can see the dead, but the problem is… the dead can see her.

Ghosts have always been cruel to Loxley Fiddleback – but none more than the spirit of her only friend, alive only hours earlier. Loxley isn’t equipped to solve a murder: she lives near the bottom of a cutthroat, strip-mined metropolis known as “The Hole,” suffers from crippling anxiety and can’t cope with strangers. Worse still, she’s haunted.

She inherited her ability to see spirits from the women of her family, but the dead see her, too. Ghosts are drawn to her, and their lightest touch leaves her with painful wounds.

Loxley swears to take blood for blood and find her friend’s killer. In doing so, she uncovers a conspiracy that rises all the way to the top of The Hole. As her enemies grow wise to her existence, she becomes the quarry, hunted by a brutal enforcer named Hiram McClintock. In sore need of confederates, Loxley must descend into the strangest depths of the city in order to have the revenge she seeks and, ultimately, her own salvation.

REVIEW:
Dealing with disabilities, sexual assault, murder, torture…not exactly story hour topics. And that is just simplifying the main topic. imagine being me… as analytical as I am trying to not overly analyse and not loose yourself in the process… Well, not happening …
IT IS AMAZING TO READ IT! NEVER LOSE THE OPPORTUNITY TO. Different doesn’t begin to describe it. I am absolutely smitten with it. Some might find it’s lenght overwellming but with so much story to tell, it’s little wonder that the length is what it is.
The world the reader is thrown into is a heavily stratified one, geographically and socially. The population appear to live in concentric rings within a mountain which is itself being mined for ore. Each ring closer to the floor of the workings also seems to indicate a drop in social class. The higher rings are populated by foremen, engineers and technical specialists, or, even further up, by corporate presidents. The lower rings are filled with workers, slumlords, the baffled and the dispossessed. Those working the mines are protected at shift change by armed guards – though they seem to serve the dual purpose of protecting the miners and effectively restraining them.
This towering society, delving into the pit, is a part of something larger, rising out of Alabama. There are other cities – Jacksonville, Atlanta – within reach, though all seem to be under the nominal authority of “The Con”, a sprawling corporation which effectively owns the continental United States. The Con are ruthless and exploitative, driving their own agenda of profit without much in the way of mercy. For all that though, they’re a part of a thriving urban ecosystem, and the brief piece of their history that is mentioned is one I’d like to see explored further.
Is it worth reading? I think the unique perspective of the protagonist may make it a struggle in some cases, and I’d suggest reading a sample first, if you can. But if the prose works for you, then the world and characters are vivid and interesting, and perhaps a little different from anything else available right now. It’s a good story, in a world I want to see more of, with an ambitiously portrayed main character – I enjoyed it, and I’d recommend you give it a try, to see if you do as well.
A sort of dystopian meets crime thriller ghost story, Every Mountain Made Low is a very interesting addition to bookshelves. I haven’t seen such unflinching diversity for a while, and it was so nice to read about characters who aren’t in the mainstream but don’t even really ponder on the fact that they aren’t. Though things drifted off towards the end for me, I enjoyed reading it for the most part and think the adult crime genre will welcome it happily.5FOXGIVEN
Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She spent her childhood running wild with her cousins, adventuring in the woods, building forts in the barn, and obsessing over books, dragons, and girls wielding really cool weapons. Visit her at kristenciccarelli.com

DESCRIPTION:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

REVIEW:

The fantasy devouring creature that I am was overly excited when I saw this title on Edelweiss. I went straight to ordering it from Netgalley. I just couldn’t keep calm until I finally had it on my Kindle ready to read.

The first couple of paragraphs hooked me to reading more, but as I continued I felt less and less engaged. The whole idea behind the novel is so brilliant, yet the execution of it fell flat.  I was haunted by a feeling of feebleness at every sentence. The main character as strong as she might seem at first sight, lacked depth and behaved like a spoiled teenage girl. Which when you think of it she is , yet she was trained to be a warrior, which automatically should put an end to all childish behavior and present the reader with a well strained and serious human being.

I continue to argue with myself on this matter. It is, after all, a YA novel, but should we underestimate young adults by giving them poor examples to follow? I think NOT! In my teen years (here I freely admit the geekness in my own upbringing) I read more serious literature than I should have, but overall I believe I mostly merited from it. Being raised by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Kafka and Kerouac, one builds up a view of life that demands reason and a sense of reality that comes in handy later in life. While by relying on weak, indecisive, prone to women nature leading figure, I think, one should be prepared to fail.

I do admit the read was enjoyable. One could even dare to call it adventurous and ingenious that is of course, if you are a weak reader, but I kept expecting more. The most jarring thing was that The Last Namsara managed to impress me right after I’ve finished 2/3 of it. And believe me to wait for most of the novel to finish, so that you see what you knew the author was capable of from the start was…. For lack of better words: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

This is without a doubt one of the books that has confused me the most. It had a brilliant idea behind it, but it was poorly executed. At all times I felt like the author was holding back… As if she were floating on top of the story afraid to dig in. I understand it is a YA novel but it left me feeling underestimated as a reader. And dragons behaving like dogs were a bit of a downfall to me. On the other hand the story evolved in a smooth manner, which made it enjoyable to read. I have to admit that the last 50 pages showed better writing than the whole book.

2FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

29496622ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amor Towles was born and raised in the Boston area. He graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University. An investment professional for over twenty years, he now writes fiction full-time in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.

DESCRIPTION:

On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.

While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.

REVIEW:

I postponed writing a review for a couple of months. It wasn’t a choice made due to lack of reading material, but only a result of the mere fact that I haven’t had the time to sit down and put my thoughts together. After reading A Gentleman in Moscow though, I just had to make the time to share my opinion. Towles bestows on us a language to be treasured; a story to be remembered. The novel is a remarkably enchanting narrative with a charming character. A gentleman, Rostov, has been put under hotel arrest. For the next several years, as he serves his time, relationships are cultivated from employees to guests to the visitors he receives and to a young girl whom he becomes a guardian for.

Lately, I’ve been yearning for a special read like this. I savored it in one big, yummy, entertaining gulp and it was the most enthralling experience I have had. Towels has a special way of transcending you into his universe that is a hundred thousand times more intense to the senses. I tasted every meal, smelled every smell… breathed every breath through the words of the author. Every sentence is so intense, that it is almost impossible not to imagine the novel as a living organism that provokes, engages and moves you ona path of palpable realism that makes fall in love with the world again.

Being born in Eastern Europe right after the fall of communism, one is raised to live with the memories of a different life. You cannot escape the stories of the older generations. and although you didn’t have the experience first hand you a raised to exist with it. It is an unexplainable syndrome that both stigmatizes and frees you. Russia became symbolic of the spread of communism throughout the world…..resulting in the end of all aristocracy.
A transformation of life that was so drastic that most people fell into a state of numbness. Until, they realised what the regime really meant.
Not only was Rostov’s aristocracy being stripped away, but his self-expression and freedom of speech was being taken from his as well. He wrote poetry…..and a poem called “Where Is It Now”…..[I thought about this interesting title for some time]. As in where does Court Rostov stand now?
Rostov “has succumbed irrevocably to the corruptions of his class”, according to
The People’s Commissariat For Internal Affairs in Moscow 1922.

A Gentleman in Moscow provided beautiful imagery and a thought-provoking dialogue on the rise of communism in Russia over a period of about 30 or so years, beginning in 1922. It was an exquisite experience to reminisce at the insights of Count Rostov related to world events, especially considering that he was confined to a large hotel for the majority of his adult life. He was an intriguing and remarkable personality.

Beyond all else, Count Rostov remained a gentleman. At times, his focus on manners and his devotion to various formalities seemed ridiculous. After all, he was essentially imprisoned in a gilded cage. But still the whole book echoed of an era long gone; and era we terribly need today.

This beguiling book achieves for me what I tend to seek in all literature, a roadmap of how to live life. The story of Count Alexander Rostov living his life in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel after being sentenced by the Bolsheviks to house arrest in the early 20’s was delightful and charming. He shows us how to adapt to misfortune and strive to bring out the best in people. He reveals for us how to be a true aesthete, one who discerns the beauty in the smallest things around us, appreciates the wonder of human creativity, and forges forgiveness for human folly. The wonderful character Towles has invented makes for a wonderful model of the perfect gentleman. Against all the horrors of Stalinist totalitarianism, his form of individualism makes for a brave and potent subversive force.
5FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Also writes under Eugen O. Chirovici and Eugen Ovidiu Chirovici.

Eugen O. Chirovici had a career in mass-media, running a national daily newspaper and then a TV news channel. He has published over 1,000 articles in Romania and abroad. He currently holds three honorary doctorates (in Economics, Communication & History) and is a member of the Romanian Academy of Science. He is the recipient of several prizes for journalism. He lives in both the UK and New York City.

DESCRIPTION:

ONE MAN’S TRUTH IS ANOTHER MAN’S LIE.

When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued.

The author, Richard Flynn is writing a memoir about his time at Princeton in the late 80s, documenting his relationship with the famous Professor Joseph Wieder.

One night in 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home and the case was never solved.

Peter Katz is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened that night twenty-five years ago and is convinced the full manuscript will reveal who committed the violent crime.

But other people’s recollections are dangerous weapons to play with, and this might be one memory that is best kept buried.

REVIEW:

In his note, the author states “I’ve always thought that after three hundred pages readers should get something more than just finding out who killed Tom, Dick or Harry, no matter how sophisticated and surprising the twists might have been.”

Although the premise of the book – an unfinished manuscript containing an account of an unsolved murder – is intriguing, I’m afraid the book didn’t live up to initial expectations for me. The use of three different narrators and the way in which each witness’s account of the murder and the events leading up to it differed, either because of lapses of memory or deliberate deceit was interesting. It was an interesting attempt, though.

However, I felt that the narrators didn’t come across as sufficiently distinctive. My main reservation about the book, though, was the author’s tendency to include a lot of unnecessary information about minor characters. Did we really need to know about the person one of the narrators sat next to on a plane, the name of a waitress in a restaurant or the details of ex-wives, girlfriends, etc?  I agree that some people are way more observant than others, I for instance am, but when reading a novel that is complex enough this actually starts to annoy.

I wasn’t sure if the author was trying to flesh out the narrators’ back stories or just pad out the book. Although, I think the author was trying to communicate something sophisticated about the unreliability of memory, in the end, unfortunately, I don’t think the book did add up to much more than “who killed Tom, Dick or Harry” with the key piece of information that nailed the killer being a chance remark.  I did want to find out who the killer was and the motive so this kept me reading to the end.

Alas, I won’t recommend it for reading to my friends. It is not a bad read, but it suggested so much more than it actually delivered. 2FOXGIVEN

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

30363088ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

She was born in the house where her parents still live in Bedford: her sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at her. As a child Hogan read everything she could lay her hands on: The Moomintrolls, A Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets and gravestones.  Hogan was mad about dogs and horses, but didn’t like daddy-long-legs or sugar in her tea.

Ruth Hogan studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College which was brilliant, but then she came home and got a ‘proper’ job. She worked for ten years in a senior local government position (She was definitely a square peg in a round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage) before a car accident left her unable to work full-time and convinced her to start writing seriously. It was going well, but then in 2012 she got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept her up all night she passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper of Lost Things.

She lives in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner (who has very recently become my husband)  She is a magpie, always collecting treasures, and a huge John Betjeman fan. Her favourite word is ‘antimacassar’ and she still likes reading gravestones.

DESCRIPTION:

A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.

Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer-Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?

Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is a heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

REVIEW:

Set in both London and Brighton this a very sweet read that I couldn’t put down since I picked up. It took me a while to write the review, though, because I was constantly re-reading it and trying to sink in all the wisdom and charm it had. It is an intelligent novel, filled with magic and gentleness and speaks of times that are no longer. It was like a throwback of the times when people actually lived, read, loved, breathed at a slower pace. It was a magnificent comic read that I’m sure people will love to get their hands on.

I was especially impressed by the characters: not only were they very vivid and real to me as a reader, but they transported me to a life I would very much wish to be apart of, even the minor once were so full of life that I wished I could pop on the street and say hi!

Ruth Hogan is a true master of the pen, she writes so delicately, her words sweep you of your feet and make you smile with every collocation, with every gap. It was a whimsical experience to have. The Keeper of Lost Things is a very special debut. I often say that every now and again, a book comes along that can make the reader laugh out loud and then cry within just a couple of pages. Well, this novel is exactly that kind of read. I hope all of you who read my humble blog go ahead a read it! The experience is priceless.

5FOXGIVEN