Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

“We built a bonfire outside, emptied everything from the refrigerator into a castiron pot— beef, potatoes, onion, black beans, tomatoes, garlic, rice—and let it stew over the open flame. We crouched over our stew like Vikings, hair falling into our bowls, scooping it up with chunks of bread and slurping the rest.”

This book gets one of my rare fives. It is well written and immersive.

The story is about Weylyn Grey, his life and those around him. Some would say his life was magical, I think Weylyn would disagree.

His tale is told through the commentary of others who are part of his life and occasionally of Weylyn himself.

He first appears as someone to whom a young girl named Mary is tasked to make a delivery, by her father. Mary makes further deliveries after this initial one, then when Weylyn’s money runs out and he is forced to move on, she runs away with him.

Mary eventually gets reunited with her father and Weylyn is fostered by a Reverend and his family.

Sadly Weylyn is destined to move on from his new home and from many of his future relationships. He spends his life leaving people behind, in his own mind, to protect them.

This book was very involving, instead of a straightforward telling of Weylyn’s life from one viewpoint, it is told from the eyes (and voices) of many. This keeps it fresh and engaging. There were many points in the story that grabbed my attention.

My favourite bit was when Weylyn and another had a meal and “crouched over our stew like Vikings, hair falling into our bowls, scooping it up with chunks of bread and slurping the rest.”

I don’t really want to spoil the book for anyone, so I’m deliberately being vague – part of the enjoyment is the discovering for yourself. What I will say though is that this book was so well described throughout and extremely enjoyable. I really recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of fantastic, natural, magical storytelling.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us how to find magic in the ordinary in her magical realism debut Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance.

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

Advertisements

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

“She is just hours from her first meeting with weird, cartilaginous Lönnrot, just over a week from her loss of faith in everything she has believed in her life.”

An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn’t taking big reading sessions.

It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith’s head as she works through the Gnomon case.

In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is able to view and experience the trawl in order to determine the guilt or otherwise (and in this instance it is not clear) of the subject.

The book has many protagonists, and sometimes I found it hard to work out when a switch between them took place. It is a complex story, probably because the brain is very complex. And somehow this complexity was necessary to the tale to give it its depth. At points I wondered where it was all going, but I think in the end it was proven appropriate. And the end is true!

I was able to get lost in the story, it was helpful during a time of duress for me. It gave me relief and I escaped into Mielikki’s life and the lives of those around and in her.

For some people this book may take a bit of getting into, but give it a chance, you may find it becomes quite compelling, and provokes quite a bit of thought.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
In a near-future Britain, a distributed surveillance-democracy called The System knows everything you, and can even spy on your mind. It’s a Panopticon country. But when state investigators then look into the head of a refusenik novelist named Diana Hunter, what they find there is not her life story but that of four other people, spread across thousands of years, all vibrantly real and each utterly impossible – and before they can unravel that puzzle, Diana Hunter, shockingly, dies as a result of the investigation, an unheard of result in a perfect system which protects everyone from harm.
That’s where Inspector Mielikki Neith comes in, a staunch believer in The System who is assigned to investigate the Hunter case. The only problem is that the teasing mysteries in the dead woman’s mind may change all that. And these are extraordinary memories, ranging from the life of a banker named Constantine Kyriakos, who finds himself pursued by a shark that may in fact be a god; and an Ethiopian retired pop artist, Berihun Bekele, who picks up his brushes to create a virtual world called The System at the behest of his games’ designer grand-daughter; and Athenaïs Karthagonensis, the jilted lover of one of the Church’s most beloved saints, who seeks to resurrect her dead son with the help of a non-existent miracle; and then finally GNOMON, the acerbic post-human who is plotting to assassinate the next iteration of the Universe . . .
The question is whether there is a truth hidden in the noise of all those lives, as Mielikki begins to suspect?
Or is all that unfolding experience and drama simply a cover for some kind of attack upon the fabric of the most democratic nation state ever constructed?
And the questions just keep coming. Who was Diana Hunter, and why are her books impossible to obtain? And above all, was Diana Hunter innocent all along – worse, could she have been correct to attempt to withstand a perfect, democratic system?

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones

“The edge of the little pool is fringed with sea anemones, purple and green tendrils like soft feathers waving in the water. Dad reaches in and gently tickles the middle of one with his finger and I squeal with delight as the tendrils close around his finger.”

Katie has died! And she doesn’t know what to do. She drifts from place to place and time to time, trying to find out how to get to where she should be now. Seeing her friends and family grieving for her is so difficult, as she feels guilty for dying so inconsiderately!

Katie has to find her own way after her death. It seems to take forever for her to find out how to get to heaven, but she has to do it the right way. She gets thrown out of one or two places that she thinks are heaven on her way to her destination! She does eventually find her soul mate, Jason, who comes along later to help her adjust to what and where she is.

Then a guardian comes along and reassigns him, which Katie finds devastating, but she has another person to help her along.

This book had so much going for it in terms of the subject matter, but I so struggled with the way the author had written it. It was so simpering and in the style of a romance story. I struggled to continue reading it, but ploughed on to see how it actually went on to finish.

Unless you like romance, I really cannot recommend this book.

If you like romance stories, then this book is a fantastic read, you should enjoy it totally. And in that case I would recommend this book to you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

2/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
You don’t wake up expecting to die.
Katie is thirty-four, single, and used to work in advertising, She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying trying to find… wherever she’s supposed to be.
And whoever she’s supposed to be with.
If Heaven has a thousand rooms, what will it take to find hers?
Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Sorcery for Beginners A Simple Help Guide to a Challenging & Arcane Art by Matt Harry

“It may seem cruel, but young people who endure traumatic moments such as this one often make better spell casters. Perhaps it’s because a happy and content existence leaves little motivation to improve oneself.”

This is a book that tells you how to do sorcery. It is also the story of Owen MacCready, whose mother has left him, and whose father has relocated him to Las Vegas.

Owen is being chased by bullies when he comes across a special bookstore and ends up with a special book, one that will teach him magic!

However, the book may teach him magic, but it comes with conditions, the most important one being that he must not let the Euclideans get their hands on it.

Of course the Euclideans want that book more than anything, so Owen has a huge battle ahead of him, without any other problems that may occur along the way.

Throughout the Tale, you ‘learn’ the same spells as Owen, so if you fulfil the sorcery requirements you should be able to cast spells like him (maybe better).

The book is very visual and includes diagrams and text boxes to supplement the story and spell casting instructions, you may see sections similar to these…

It was a good story and although it could be interpreted as a bit predictable in places, in the main it was interesting and innovative in its telling. I enjoyed the story. It will definitely suit young readers and those who have an open mind about magical stories. Try it, you may be surprised.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
Five-hundred years ago, sorcery began to fade from the world. As technology prevailed, combustion engines and computers replaced enchanted plows and spell books. Real magicians were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten. That is … until now.

Sorcery for Beginners is no fantasy or fairy tale. Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), this book is a how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It’s also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long war when he uses sorcery to take on a school bully. Owen’s spell casting attracts the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, all of whom wish to use Sorcery for Beginners to alter the course of world history forever.

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

“The beads of water on his face and hair glistened in the crude light from an oil lamp that sat upon the kitchen table and a kind of halo emerged around him as he relaxed each muscle in his body save those in his cheeks that tempted a satisfied smile from his plumped lips. I selected and unfolded a towel from the pile we aired near the stove and rubbed the crisp fabric against Daddy’s wet skin. He moaned with sedate pleasure.”

This book is a well written descriptive of the lives of three individuals who reside in an area called Elmet. They do not own the land on which they have built their home, but feel a connection to the land on which they live.
Daniel, Cathy and their Daddy are free spirits living a natural life in tune with nature.
But there are those that want something from them and those people intend to ensure that they get their own way.
Daniel is narrating the tale so everything is from his view. He describes his relationship with both his father and his sister, as well as the people in the surrounding area.
Some locals want to get all that they can from the small family and Daniel tells the story of how they all interact with each other. Finally coming to the end, where his story started. Full of sadness, violence, love, hope and despair.
This was a very detailed, involving story and I did get very engrossed with it. However, I did find that it was somewhat skimpy in how it portrayed some aspects of the tale and felt it left me wanting, particularly in the ‘italics’ part of the story. Nonetheless, overall I enjoyed reading it and read it very quickly and intensively, as it was an engaging read.
A good first novel and happy to see a local author nominated for the man booker prize.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

Thinblade (Sovereign of the Seven Isles Book 1) by David A. Wells

“He had been burned, marked with the glyph of the Reishi, only a moment after the warning spell had washed over him. The spell that had just warned the whole world about the coming of Prince Phane had marked him.”

This is an epic story, judging by this the first of the series.

It starts with a wolf hunt, a murder and a magical marking of the son of a minor noble. The bloodline of the family has a curse on it and Alexander will find out from his father what the magical marked burned into his skin will mean for him, his family and everyone else in the Seven Isles.
“You are the one marked by the Rebel Mage. The old story says that you must defeat Prince Phane or the world will fall into darkness and tyranny for a thousand years.”

The battle starts straight away and Alexander has to continue the fight throughout the entire story with little let-up or reprieve.

I’m hoping that this series ends up being as good as ‘Game of Thrones’, if it carries on in such a good vein I will be very happy to keep reading this series by David A. Wells.

4/5 Stars (What this means…
five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
When second son Alexander Valentine loses his brother to an assassin’s arrow, he discovers that his family protects an ancient secret and reluctantly finds himself at the center of the final battle of a war that was supposed to have ended two thousand years ago.

Pursued by the dark minions of an ancient enemy, Alexander flees to the mountain city of Glen Morillian where he discovers that he is the heir to the throne of Ruatha, one of the Seven Isles, but before he can claim the throne he must recover the ancient Thinblade. Seven were forged by the first Sovereign of the Seven Isles and bound to the bloodline of each of the seven Island Kings in exchange for their loyalty to the Old Law. Each sword is as long as a man’s arm, as wide as a man’s thumb and so thin it can’t be seen when viewed from the edge. Thinblade is the epic fantasy adventure story of Alexander’s quest to find the ancient sword, claim the throne of Ruatha and raise an army to stand against the enemy that has awoken to claim dominion over all of the Seven Isles.

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

“She would learn later that she had been making a strange sound, part moan, part scream: a single, guttural yell. This was why her son had walked towards her, but at the time, in her altered state of mind, she was unaware.”

Well I thought I wanted to read this book until I got partway through and realised that it was what I think people probably call ‘chicklit’, which is not a genre that I’m interested in.
It was certainly well written and crafted in a way that leads the reader nicely through the story.
However I made a mistake in selecting it and did not really enjoy it much at all.
So in fairness to the author I am not going to criticise it and will just say that it will probably suit those who like a story about life destroyed by disaster and then rebuilt through personal resilience.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina’s life of luxury quickly disappears and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Stirring and empowering, this novel from bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

The Last Librarian (Book One of the Justar Journal) by Brandt Legg

““I am not running, I am seeking. I am not hiding, I am finding.” “Where do you go? What do you do?” “I’m just dancing with time, and occasionally wrestling with it. Like my daddy used to say, ‘Time’s a funny thing.’ But I’m not laughing.” He sat next to Deuce again. “It’s almost over.””

This is a story set in the future, when all the books except those in the last library have been destroyed. Books are only available digitally now and the government agencies have decided that the last paper books are no longer necessary. The library is scheduled to be destroyed. The Last Librarian is Runit Happerman and he wants to save as many books as he can before ‘they’ come in 10 days to destroy his world, he just needs a little help with that.
His best friend Nelson is an author, he offers to help and gets his sister Chelle Andreas involved too. Runit is concerned about his son Grandyn becoming embroiled in the rebellious act, but is unable to prevent him joining the growing team and also bringing his girlfriend Vida along, as well as his Treerunner colleagues. Surely all those would be enough to achieve the saving of 100,000 books.
There are of course other factors involved, but to write them here would be to spoil the story for the next reader, so trust me when I say that it is a massive task, made difficult by shifting parameters and personal interactions.
The story could be considered a prophetic tale, with the prevalence of digital books, many people nowadays don’t need the paper books anymore. But who keeps the records of what the author intended to be read?
This was an interesting and involving read and I did enjoy my time with it.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
USA Today Bestseller “Never let them catch you reading!”
In the year 2098, there is no more war, no more hunger and no more pollution. The world is secure and Earth’s 2.9 billion people are healthy and happy. There is also only one remaining library that still houses physical books. In addition to the dusty volumes, the library holds many secrets. But the government has decided to shut it down and burn the contents. Unless an unlikely trio can save the books, humanity will lose more than just what is printed on those antique pages.

With a single government ruling the entire planet, one currency, one language and no religion, the population is unified and enjoying the prosperity that comes with more than seven decades of peace. Free healthcare for all and guaranteed employment make the future a dream. But this future may only be safe if they can hide the past. The books must be saved . . . the impossible task is up to an angry author, a brazen revolutionary and the last librarian. When everything is perfect, the only thing left to fear is the truth.

The Lost TreeRunner (Justar Journal #2) available now – The Lost TreeRunner (The Justar Journal Book 2)
The List Keepers (Justar Journal #3) available now – The List Keepers (The Justar Journal Book 3)

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

Blood and Stars (Legend of Rhyme Series Volume 1 Book 5 ) by Jaime Lee Mann

“Sibley sucks in her breath as the statue disappears. And Elora— in the flesh, in a long black gown— blinks her eyes, stretches her arms, and smiles. “Mother.””

Once again I read Jaime Lee Mann in one day, in one sitting. The stories she writes are so engaging!
This one covers the continuing adventures of the Caine children.
It is usual with this series to flick back and forth between the main characters to keep the time line development in sync for the reader, as this book is no exception.
I liked that the story of Teagan continues in an undersea world of mer folk, that Asher is still susceptible to the Darkness in the world. There are some new characters introduced to give depth to the story and these have back story to describe how they fit in.
Jaime Lee Mann manages to write such good stories, they are enjoyable for adults and children alike. Do give her Legend of Rhyme stories a read and then share them with your friends and family.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
Thirteen-year-old Ariana Caine has woken in Coraira, and is torn between finding her brother Asher and learning how to rule the magic realm while Calla is under a protection spell.
Beneath the sea, Starla the mer-queen is bringing her apprentice, Teagan, to the Chamber of Memories to learn more about her parents. But when Starla is beckoned by one of the Ancients, Teagan is approached by a stranger, who promises to lead her to her mother and father. Meanwhile, the sea witch and her sisters are poised and ready to usurp the queen’s reign, and will stop at nothing to gain her powers.
On top of it all, Elora, the infamous witch who has caused so much heartache, is now asking for trust one last time.
Will Ariana choose Coraira over her brother?
Will the sea witch have her wish?
What are Elora’s true intentions?

Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone 

“It was always worse when he’d had a beer or two. That Feeling. Hot, urgent and raw, tearing through him. Making him restless, argumentative. Angry. It was as though something or someone took control of him, forcing him to act badly, to be nasty and cruel.”

This is a story about a transplant patient, who starts to exhibit different characteristics than his normal ones. Is it his donors organ changing him, or did he always have a propensity to do that which he now does?

Jacob receives a new heart, even as he is coming round his character has changed, he swears, thinks little of women. Once home his family are grateful for his reprieve and do not immediately take in his changes.
Meanwhile his donor’s girlfriend has moved on and is living a happier life as a singleton, while keeping her job in a local bank. She hasn’t told anyone about how her previous relationship was and is taking life one day at a time.

As the story moves forward Jacob’s character changes ever more profoundly and his mother starts to feel concern. She starts to seek help for her son, always wondering whether it is the new heart or the way Jacob was brought up.

The ending is tense and fast paced, I was speed reading to see what the outcome would be for the individual characters. Would any of them be brave enough to solve the matter?

This was a cracking story, different than many others. It explores the idea of memory within donated organs being assimilated by the host bodies. Totally fascinating!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim