#Throwback Thursday: I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

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Throw back Thursday is a tag that originated from Book Talk – its a way to remind ourselves of our old favourites and this week I am excited to talk about Dodie Smith’s wonderful novel, I capture the Castle 

For those of you who remember the 2003 film starring Bill Nighy, do you remember how utterly enchanting it was? The romanticised image of the English countryside and its ruined old castle? Well, its original novel is even more gorgeous.

I often band The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice and I Capture the Castle into the same sort of category. They’re both set after the war and share the same captivating prose that makes England seem like somewhere out of a fairytale. However, this is somewhat darker than the The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets; it emphasises the financial pressure’s dumped on families following the war and depicts some darker, seedier characters that you are just begging to be cast away somewhere.

This novel is told through a  diary-keeper called Cassandra, who is ever critical of her family; her gorgeous older sister, her introverted father, her annoying little brother and her naked step-mother. As ever, with most teenage girls of this period, she dreams of marrying a rich, older gentleman and wants nothing more than to be swept off her feet.

As luck might have it, two American’s stumble in on her whilst she is having a bath, and thus entails a love triangle that involves parties, record players and sibling rivalry. Again, this is not chic-lit, I promise. Perhaps it would be in a modern setting, but Dodie Smith’s luscious descriptions of the English countryside and the depiction of the aftermath of war makes this a truly worth while read. I’ve read it about three times, and I am certain I will pick it up again when I need to escape from the bustle of city-life. *sigh*

 

#Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for Weird Worlds!

This is my first time using this tag which was started by The Broke and The Bookish. There is no particular theme this week, so I thought I’d talk about some weird and twisted books that I just love!

Okay, so first, lets define what I mean by ‘weird’. I don’t mean witches, wands and sorting hats; nor do I mean novels that are set on top of a floating turtle in outer-space (I mean that would be cool right?). No. I mean the sort of weird that when we read them, we can draw a sigh of relief that we are not in the book. – perhaps a rare way of thinking for book-lovers, but I feel up to the challenge…

 

geek-love-coverGeek Love – Katherine Dunn

A family-run carnival who follow no ethics codes and whom basically prey on the ‘normal’ people – us. This is one of my favourite books of all time, but my god, thank god the Binewski family do not exist in real life!

 

 

 

 

metamorphMetamorphosis – Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka, one of my favourite authors but with a twisted imagination. Waking up to find you’ve turned into a human sized cockroach? No thanks!

 

Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood TheHandmaidsTale(1stEd).jpg

Most of us are familiar with this by now – if anything else, those red capes are not a good look!

 

1984Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell 

Reading this was a little like living my worse nightmare. Like a horrible dream that I couldn’t put down!

 

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A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess 

This novel is not just a little bit mad, but completely terrifying. If you haven’t read this, then I wouldn’t… unless you have a very strong stomach!

 

i.tI.T – Stephen King 

Oh I.T. One of the best horror stories ever (in my opinion) – but there is perhaps nothing worse than a clown that feeds off your most deepest fears.

 

 

 

Theboyinthestripedpyjamas.jpgThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne 

 

This is a bit of a cheat I suppose – as this is not so much fiction but horrifyingly real. I don’t need to say anymore.

 

lord of the fliesLord of the Flies – William Golding 

This is such a great book, and makes me wonder what would really happen if a group of kids were left on an island to fend for themselves… I shudder at the thought. This also brings me on to…

 

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The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins 

A perhaps less brutal version of Battle Royale, but awful nonetheless! (The concept I mean… not the book)

 

TheWitchesThe Witches – Roald Dahl 

 

I think there are a lot of Roald Dahl Books that are guaranteed to scare kids and The Witches was definitely up there for me. I am so happy that they do not exist! (…I hope)

#Booktag: It’s Monday, what are you reading!?

Yay, I love this tag! Started by Book Date, I feel like its a great way for not just all you followers, but also to keep myself up-to-date with what I should be reading and what I have been reading.

 

So, lets see the list…

What I read last week: 

 Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody – Joe Canzano

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A super-fast action, space adventure! Sex, space and… guns! You can see my review here!

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead – Charlie Laidlaw

 

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This was a really, really good book. Full of questions about life, death and religion told in a humorous yet thought-provoking way. A five snail rating!

What am I currently reading? 

Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw 

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I’ve been excited to get my hands on this book for a while – now I’m finally there! I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far – the characters are awesome and the story reminds me of something from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Can’t wait to give my review!

What’s next? 

I.Q – Joe Ide

 

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This was a Goodreads giveaway – I have no idea what to expect to be honest! Here is the Goodreads synopsis… finger crossed its a good one!

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood’s high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can’t or won’t touch.

They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it’s a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes

Book SPOTLIGHT & Excerpt: Interpretation – Dylan Callens

Date: 1st August 2017 

Publisher: Cosmic Teapot Publishing 

Today I am pleased to spotlight and share with your a new novel by Dylan Callens. I have to say I am rather intrigued by the blurb – ideal for any dystopian fans who enjoy the perspective of the outsider.

The Plot

Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster. 

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above. 

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

Excerpt

Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself.  Barely a squeak left his mouth.  What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies?  Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge.  Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy.

But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good.  Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate.  Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him.  Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him.  That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further.  The light grew dimmer.  He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome.

A shadow hovered over him.  Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense.  The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur.  Water entered Carl’s mouth, nearly choking him.  Nonetheless, the delicious wet felt so good, like ocean refreshment in every bottle.  That was the slogan, right?  Carl laughed or cried, he couldn’t tell.  For all he knew, he was dead.  The shadow grew, saying something that he couldn’t work his mind around.  Darker. Darker.  Clock, what the hell was that clock song?  Darker. The shadow drew nearer.  Or maybe it was the darkness.  It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride…Ah yes, there it is.But it stopped short – never to go again – When the old man died.  That’s the one.  Darkness.

Author Bio

Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

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www.cosmicteapot.net

You can purchase on Amazon, Kobo, ibooks, B&N – Get reading!

Is heaven just a vessel in out-of space?: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead – Charlie Laidlaw

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Date: January 2017

Publisher: Accent Press: https://www.accentpress.co.uk/the-things-we-learn-when-were-dead

Isn’t the human imagination such a wonderful thing! Art and literature being the ultimate platform in which we can project the bizarre and brilliant ideas that float through our thoughts. When I first picked up Charlie’s Laidlaw’s novel, The Things We Learn When We Are Dead, I of course had no idea what to expect as I’d only read the blurb – the plot of which was so strange that quite frankly, it could go one of two ways.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home

Strange, but I was utterly captivated by the very first page. This book is so well-written, it could be about a man watching paint dry and I still would have loved it. As it happens, the plot was equally as well-crafted as the words and I was introduced to new ideas about death and the afterlife – one’s I had never considered before. This novel questions religion and what ‘heaven’ really is.

It seems like an odd question, but is heaven simply a vessel in space captained by a hippy-type God? I mean, there are millions, perhaps zillions of theories that have circulated through time that I suppose this idea isn’t that crazy. I mean, someone once told me they believe our souls are transported to other living creatures when we die – even plants. So what’s so wrong about a spaceship – especially a spaceship that picks up creatures from other planets.

This novel really is full of unique ideas that got me thinking – and I am in no way religious. Lorna is such a great character, someone I felt I really related to (though I am no way near clever enough to be a lawyer.) Its told in flashbacks – fleeting stories from Lorna’s past that are told as she slowly remembers her life on earth and we are challenged with the idea that perhaps it is our memories that really shape us. I also loved Irene, a ‘woman’ from another planet who is both rebellious and moody, yet makes every effort to make Lorna comfortable in her new place in Heaven.

What really kept me reading, was when we find out that Lorna had supposedly committed suicide and that God had chosen her especially to be aboard the space ship (you see, not everyone goes to heaven). She denies she committed suicide, its just not something she would do! But when her past life unfolds within her memories, it seems she is not quite who she remembered.

This is  not a novel for a light afternoon read – this is for someone wanting a book they can really get their teeth into!

 

Find out more about Charlie and his other novels here: https://www.charlielaidlawauthor.com/

 

*Blog Tour* Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody – Joe Canzano

 

Genre: Science Fiction

Cover Design: J Caleb Clark

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When outlaw Suzy Spitfire discovers her father was murdered after creating a super-duper artificial intelligence, she races across the solar system in search of the brain he built—but it’s a rough ride, and she’s soon forced to tangle with pirates, predators, and her father’s killer—as well as a man she thinks she can love.

Suzy Spitfire was nothing but fun. Spaceships, sex and trash-mouthed characters fill this book alongside an adventure across space that twists and turns at every corner. Sounds cheesy? It is a little – in the best way possible.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opening chapter of this novel. Snappy, humorous and full of enough descriptions to really create an atmosphere fitting out-of-space. I was immediately reminded of Futureama and was anticipating a quirky read full of unique characters. I wasn’t wrong. Suzy’s character really is fantastic. I felt like I’d known her character for a long time, and she took on an almost ant-hero kind of role which I like – a little different form your average hero!

Though this was a fun novel- full of quips and sexual tension between Suzie and Rodrigo, there wasn’t a lot of going on in the plot. Though it seems like it is all fast-paced and action-packed, it is essentially just a space-adventure and I started to get a little tired of the constant fights that Suzie and the gang seemed to find themselves in.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for some fast-paced space adventure. The premise of the novel is great – although I’d suggest, not entirely original- and would make an excellent space-adventure-action movie. – or even a cartoon, the cover art is pretty awesome.

 

About Joe Canzano 

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Joe Canzano is a writer and musician who lives in New Jersey, U.S.A.  He is the author of two absurd comic fantasy novels, “Magno Girl,” and “Sex Hell.”  For more information about Joe, please visit www.happyjoe.net.

Thank you to Sage Blog Tours for giving me a space on the tour!

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Throwback Thursday: The Shadow in The – by Carlos Ruiz Saffron

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I’ve done it. I’m finally using the phrase/ hashtag that I’ve hated for years. But as book tags go, its pretty handy for refreshing ourselves of some old favourites. You can find where this meme originated at Book Talk!

I’ve chosen The Shadow in The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Saffron. I have blogged about this novel before – back when my blog was new and I had about two followers – thanks guys! 😊 This book really is amazing, comforting and magical and I just want to bury my head inside it every time I pick it up.

Its basic premise?

According to tradition, the first time someone visits this place, he must chose a book, whichever he wants, and adopt it, making sure it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive.

Here is Goodread’s description:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. 

 

It’s a readers book and I promise, you will fall in love.

The Growing Season – Helen Sedgwick (Out 7 Sept)

Publisher: Harvill Secker

Date: 7th September

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Plot (Goodreads) Without the pouch, Eva might not have been born. And yet she has sacrificed her career, and maybe even her relationship, campaigning against FullLife’s biotech baby pouches. Despite her efforts, everyone prefers a world where women are liberated from danger and constraint and all can share the joy of childbearing. Perhaps FullLife has helped transform society for the better? But just as Eva decides to accept this, she discovers that something strange is happening at FullLife.

“I want to create a liberating form of equality. A more reliable bond between parent and child.” – The Growing Season 

I haven’t read anything remotely ‘dystopian’ in a long while – not since university with the like of Aldous Huxley and Margaret Atwood. I love the genre, its possibly one of my favourite next to horrors and thrillers.

And The Growing Season was just awesome. I really can’t rave enough about this book! It lived up to all my expectations regarding dystopian novels, and I was just thrilled with the modern aspect that I’m not used to. (I’m mostly used to these sorts of books written in the past which portray an unlikely vision of the future.) Helen asks questions prevalent within today’s society regarding reproduction, feminism and what it means to be individual. Its told from multiple viewpoints, from those both for and opposed to the Baby Pouches that are revolutionising the way human’s breed. I could feel various influences resonating through the novel; particularly the mysterious woman in the lighthouse whom reminded me of someone from a Virginia Wolfe Novel. Her particular story centres round isolation and anxiety over the Asda Delivery man which added an almost comical over-tone in such a desperately lonely situation.

Each character in this novel has valid arguments for and against FullLife’s Baby pouches. It gives both men and women the chance to have children, even if they are infertile. However, it is biologically wrong and recently something sinister has been happening to the new-borns. This brings up so many debates over things like male contraception, abortion and the basic right to live. And questions like: Where do the unwanted children go? Is it right that pregnancy should be so easy when there are children with no homes? What if these pouches are actually dangerous?

This was a joy to read – beautifully written and incredibly thought-proving. Five stars from me! It comes out on the 7th September by Harvill Secker – an imprint of Vintage, Penguin. I’m super excited and urge you all to read!

#IMWAYR – Monday Reading Tag!

I’ve decided to join in on Book Date’s ‘#It’s Monday! What are you reading’ tag. I find it difficult to keep up with my blog whilst juggling work and busy weekends, so this is an ideal way to keep the posts rolling! My list isn’t super long but I’ve felt it important to take my time over novels – I can only read one at a time!

 

What I read Last Week 

suzy spitfire

Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a new novel by Joe Canzano which I am joining the blog tour for next month. Its quirky, humorous and filled with such awesome characters that the plot doesn’t really matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

32604387The Good Widow is a novel by book bloggers Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. I loved it. Its full of secrets and bad relationships that makes you feel guilty to read… almost 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

girl on the trainThe Girl on the Train – I don’t need to say much about this book. Just awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m Currently Reading I’

The growing seasonI’m about 10% of my way into this novel on my kindle and wow! It’s just wonderful. Set in a world were men and women can both carry babies inside ‘bio tech baby pouches’ – sounds like the perfect world? Of course not. This is a dystopian, science fiction story which SO FAR has remnants of Brave New World/ The Handsmaid’s Tale running through it. This could all change of course- these are just my initial thoughts!

 

 

 

 

What’s up next!?

the things we learn when we are deadThe Things We Learn When We Are Dead by Charlie Laidlow:

From Charlie’s Website: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a modern fairytale of love and loss.  It’s about the subtle ways in which we change, and how the small decisions that we make can have profound and unintended consequences.

32452160​I pre-ordered Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw months ago but I found out yesterday (from Amazon) that they ran out of stock! Looks like its going to take me a little longer to read than I realised unfortunately! I’m super excited about this title – Goodreads opening for this books is: Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations. What more could you want! 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoyed! Make sure to check out the other bloggers with the #IMWAYR tag!

The Good Widow – Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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Date: 2017

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When Jacks (short for Jaqueline) receives the news that her husband has died in a car crash in Maui she has to ask her self two questions: 1. What on earth was he doing in Maui? and 2. Who was the woman in the car with him? Not only does her husband’s death tear her life apart, but she has to face the realisation that he was not the man she thought he was.

Who doesn’t love a good-ol domestic psychological thriller. The Good Widow does not fail to disappoint and I have to say, there is something slightly perverse about reading about other people’s scandalous and damaged relationships, its exciting in a weird, messed up kind of way.

I don’t often like to read about death and grieving… not in the ‘real’ kind of way but Liz and Lisa depict Jacks emotions perfectly, carefully balancing grieving widow and angry wife. I also liked the way the novel flits back and forth between ‘before’ and ‘after’ the car crash. The ‘before’ narrative allows us to explore Jacks husband James’ personality. His charm, his allure and ultimately the reason behind his broken marriage.

And oh! We can’t forget about Nick the Firefighter… but that’s all I’m going to say!

This really was an intriguing read. I’d recommend this for an evening curled up on the sofa or in the garden when you need a break from the working day.