Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak

Author: Robert Beatty

Genre: YA Thriller/Horror

Opens: Serafina opened her eyes and scanned the darkened workshop, looking for any rats stupid enough to come into her territory while she slept.

Blurb: Serafina’s Pa told her "Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul." She has never had a reason to disobey her Pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her Pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. Then the children start disappearing

My Thoughts: SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK is a real page turner. I was swept into the magic, terror and mystery of Serafina’s world from the very first page. Set in the 1900s Serafina and her father ‘Pa” live in the dark spooky basement of the remote Biltmore Estate. Which is actually a real place: http://www.biltmore.com/visit/biltmore-house-gardens/biltmore-house

Pa has always kept her hidden as they are not supposed to be living in the basement so Serafina has kept away from people and amuses herself by chasing, catching and evicting rats from the dark corridors of the house. All she really wants though is to not have to hide, and to have some friends. When the book opens she has just successfully seen off another couple of rats when she sees a man in a black cloak holding a struggling girl. Hidden in the shadows Serafina sees the man cover the girl with his cloak – and the girl disappears! He then sees Serafina and chases her – but she knows the dark passages like the back of her hand and eludes him. The next day there is a grand ball and Serafina sneaks upstairs to see if she can spot the man in the black cloak and meets Braeden Vanderbilt the young nephew of the Estate’s owners. She tells him about the little girl and he tells her that this is not the first child that has gone missing. The two youngsters then decide to find the man in the black cloak.

What follows is an edge of the seat, heart pumping story. Twists, turns and danger – not sure how many more adjectives I can use to describe the book – but it soon becomes apparent that Braeden is going to be the next victim. There is also a very different sub-plot, or back story, about Serafina’s mother and why Serafina’s dad is hiding them both. The huge climax in the deep part of the forest is heart-in-mouth time and was really scary – mind you I’m a big sook and scare easily – the average 12-year-old who the book is aimed at would probably lap it up! Serafina is a fairly unusual child – with yellow eyes and 8 toes, while Braeden has a talent of being able to communicate with animals. Neither child’s talent is considered unusual – it is just part of who they are – no questions asked. And I can’t say too much about the man in the black cloak other than he is creepy and terrifying – and without heart. I am quite surprised this has not been shelved as horror – because it is deliciously so.

If you love spooky thrillers then SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK is for you.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Disney-Hyperion and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

May/June Reading Wrap Up

Welcome to my May/June reading wrap-up, I took a little break from my blog but the stats never stop:

The total of books I read in May was: 12

The total of books I read in June was: 20

Of these: 3 were Library Books, 20 were E-books and 9 were from my physical TBR pile

Then: Out of the books I read I discovered 20 ‘new for me’ authors (i.e. the first time I have read their work).

And: 7 of the books read were written by Australian authors.

Best Book of the month: The last two months have been good reading months for me – as far as quality went – I had 2 ‘A’ books. I give ‘A’s (or 5 stars) to books that, regardless of genre, are complete page turners for me, that have me reading late into the night, suck me straight into the story and leaves me wanting more at the end; and I utterly recommend it. If I give a high score to a book it means it is a top example of whatever genre it belongs to.

The two genres that made it into my top 2 were a Contemporary YA and a Historical book. The books were ‘The Sky is Everywhere’ by Jandy Nelson and ‘Letters from Sky’ by Jessica Brockmole. As well as both titles having the word sky in them (quite unintentional and only just noticed as I typed this) both of them were top of their respective genres so are both highly recommended as such. However, overall, my book of the month was THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson because the story is so well written that it just blew me away – it deals with death and recovery of those left behind as they learn not to feel guilty for being alive – and it does it well.

Least Favourite Book(s):

I say ‘least favourite’ because my lowest ‘score’ still means that I read the whole book, but for one reason or another I found it a bit of struggle to stay focused and finish. I only struggled with three books this month Dragon Actually by G.A. Aikin, I take you by Eliza Kennedy and Popeye Never Told You by Rodney Hall. Even though the style that Popeye Never Told You was written in drove me to distraction it is not my least favourite – came a close second though. My least favourite book of the month is I TAKE YOU by Eliza Kennedy – In fact it came very close to being a ‘Did Not Finish’. I could not relate in any way shape or form to the main character – her character was completely abhorrent to me and I could not reconcile to her lifestyle and why this type of lifestyle was considered normal – and even fun! This is just my personal opinion, and there some 4 and 5 star reviews out there and you may find that it may very well be perfect for you.

General Summary:

Because I am an eclectic reader I read many different genres, sometimes at the same time! The different genres covered over the last 2 months were Young Adult, children’s, Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Mystery, Non-fiction, women’s Fiction, Historical (set over 50 years ago), Contemporary Fiction (set in the last 50 years), Dystopian and Science Fiction. Many of the books were a blend of two or more genre.

The 7 Australian authors were 3 of the new-for-me authors Aaron L. Speer, Brenda Cheers and Jenn J McLeod; along with Natalie Herzer, Kendall Talbot, Kate Forsyth and Margaret Lynette Sharp. Just to clarify an Australian author is defined by me as either an Australian born author no matter where they live and write in the world now, or an author who currently lives and writes in Australia even though they have been born elsewhere.

Finally, the 20 ‘new-for-me’ authors I read were my three new Aussie authors Aaron L. Speer, Brenda Cheers and Jenn J McLeod; along with Jandy Nelson, Beth Revis, G.A. Aikin, Sarah MacLean, Jenny Wingfield, Jan Watson, Darynda Jones, Lisa Mondello, Lacey Weatherford, Jessica Brockmole, Rodney Hall, E.D. Baker, BB, Ellery Adams, Lauraine Snelling, Robert Beatty and Eliza Kennedy. With the exception of Rodney Hall and Eliza Kennedy I would happily read all of these new authors again.

Interesting book related links that I’ve come across this month:

27 obscure facts about Shakespeare

http://www.bustle.com/articles/90560-27-obscure-facts-every-real-shakespeare-fan-should-know-about-the-bard-and-his-works

14 expressions with crazy origins you never would have guessed

http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/14-expressions-with-crazy-origins-that-you-would-never-have-guessed/

The List

So let’s get onto what this post is about – what did I read during May and June? Here is the list of books that I read (each group is in the order I read them):

A (5 stars) = Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson – Contemporary YA

Letters from Sky by Jessica Brockmole – Historical

B (4 Stars) = Really Good Read

Across the Universe by Beth Revis – YA Science Fiction

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen – Historical Mystery

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean – Historical Romance

Prudence by Gail Carriger – Historical YA

Night Walker by Aaron L. Speer – Contemporary Paranormal

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield – Historical

Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod – Women’s Fiction

All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello – Romance

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – YA Romance

The Trouble with Spells by Lacey Weatherford – YA Paranormal

The Hunt is On by Natalie Herzer – Fantasy Paranormal

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker – YA Fantasy

Unlocking the Spell by E.D. Baker – YA Fantasy

No Ghouls Allowed by Victoria Laurie – Paranormal Mystery

Treasured Secrets by Kendall Talbot – Romantic Suspense

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams – Mystery

Sisters and Rivals by Margaret Lynette Sharp – Historical Romance

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty – Historical YA Horror

Wolves of the Witchwood by Kate Forsyth – Children’s Fantasy

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman – Contemporary

In Strange Worlds by Brenda Cheers – Science Fiction/Dystopian

C (3 stars) = Above Average – very readable and enjoyable

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler – Contemporary

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness – Fantasy

Troublesome Creek by Jan Watson – Historical

First Grave on the Right by by Darynda Jones – Paranormal Mystery

The Little Grey Men by BB – Children’s Fantasy

Ruby by Lauraine Snelling – Historical

D (2 stars) = Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish

Dragon Actually by G.A. Aikin – Fantasy/Romance

Popeye Never Told You: Childhood Memories of the War by Rodney Hall – Non-Fiction

I take you by Eliza Kennedy – Chick Lit

So onward to July – Woo Hoo! I wonder what book goodies I will discover this month? I wonder if I will start to catch up on my reviews!

Title: Treasured Secrets

Author: Kendall Talbot

Genre: Adventure

Opens: Moments like these were said to happen in slow motion

Blurb: The last place Rosalina expected the clue to a 700-year-old mystery to lead is back into the arms of Archer, the one man who broke her heart. But neither can solve the puzzle without the other, so together they set off on a new adventure, weaving from Tuscany’s underbelly to Archer’s luxurious yacht in the Greek Islands, trying to ignore the sparks that still fly unhindered between them. Archer desperately wants to salvage the relationship he shattered years before, but fighting for Rosalina’s love soon takes a back seat to fighting for their lives. They aren’t the only one on the trail for the treasure, and their competition isn’t bothered by ethics and morals to achieve their goals. With evil close on their trail, and Archer wrestling with the remnants of a childhood tragedy, Rosalina begins to wonder if perhaps there are some secrets that were never meant to be revealed

My Thoughts: A couple of years ago I read Kendall’s award winning debut novel Lost in Kakadu and really enjoyed it. So I was overjoyed when she contacted me and asked if I would like to read her latest release. TREASURED SECRETS is promoted as romantic suspense, and while it certainly does have romance in it –the focus is on the edge of the seat adventure that drives the story from beginning to end. The story opens with Rosalina and Archer splitting up after a 3 year relationship – night after night Archer suffers from a horrific nightmare about the day his father died, the dream has him screaming and waking Rosalina up. But he won’t tell Rosalina what happened, or even what the dream is about. When she pushes for more information he tells her that they are parting as she deserves a better life without him in it. Archer doesn’t believe he is worthy of love. She returns broken hearted to Italy – he immerses himself in his yacht charter business. Months later when visiting an ancient church with her historian expert friend, Rosalina sees something in a painting that reminds her of something Archer owns – and she is attacked by a monk when she tries to look closer at the painting. She sends a message to Archer telling him what she has seen not expecting any response. Imagine her shock when he turns up on her doorstep in Italy a few days later. It is not long after this that the two of them, and their friends, are plunged into treasure hunt that will eventually lead to a fight for their lives. Secrets are revealed, history is uncovered and friendships – and love – are finally forged.

Both Rosalina and Archer are such real characters and come alive on the pages – totally believable yet by no means perfect. The background takes us from Australia to the Greek islands via Italy and the descriptions of the places they visit left me wanting more. The villain of the piece was a truly horrible, evil, creepy and truly unlikable person.

TREASURED SECRETS has it all – romance, action, adventure, danger and the occasional glass of wine.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Escape Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Title: Season of Shadow and Light

Author: Jenn J. McLeod

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Opens: Same dream, same time, same sweaty body reduced to a shivering mess

Blurb: When it seems that everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with her six-year-old daughter, Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow. But stranded amid rising floodwaters on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there years earlier. Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but…are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?

My Thoughts: I have been seeing author Jenn J McLeod’s name being bandied around various book forums and blogs for a wee while now – always with great positive statements. So when I got the chance to review SEASON OF SHADOW AND LIGHT there was not one hesitation before jumping at the opportunity. And what a great story it is too, I became totally immersed.

Paige’s perfect life is disintegrating – she had a late in pregnancy miscarriage, which triggered a stroke, and her sense of taste and smell have gone which leads to her loosing her job as a food critic. Now she has discovered her husband was unfaithful. She may be well off and living in an upper middle class suburb with a wealthy husband. But she is not happy. When she finds an old photo of her now deceased mother, Nancy, she tracks down the small country town that the snapshot may have been taken at. Paige then decides to take a break and books a cabin next to the river in the town. Her aim is to find out more about her mother – as her early life is a complete mystery. Paige is puzzled by Alice’s totally negative reaction to this plan, but goes ahead anyway. A change in the weather and rising floods leave them marooned in Coolabah Tree Gully instead and the scene is set for past secrets to start unravelling. The reader does learn a few of the truths; however some of the details are not connected until much later in the book leaving the mystery ticking along nicely.

Even though Paige is the main character and the story is about her search for the truth about her mother’s past, which also creates the suspense for the story, I found my focus to be on Alice. She was a wonderfully complex character torn between her love of her adopted daughter, and her allegiance to her now dead partner Nancy. Alice knows the secrets but made a solemn vow on her soul mates death bed not to reveal them. Alice has been the sole carer of Paige since Nancy died when Paige was ten. She is terrified that the past will be revealed – and no good will come of it. Jenn McLeod does a terrific job with Alice – a woman with her back to the wall – her allegiances called into question and the terrible strain she is under while she battles with her conscience terrified that all she holds dear will be destroyed.

There are many themes in SEASON OF SHADOW AND LIGHT infidelity, same sex relationships, abuse, and organ transplants. Which made it such an interesting story to read. The relationships between the different characters are very believable and the country town that was the setting just came alive on the pages. I can see I am going to have to go back and pick up some of Jenn McLeod’s earlier works.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

On Hiatus

HIATUS means “A Pause From Something” or “A Break From Something”

That something being paused is my blog. I am all blogged out for now – I have fallen so far behind in my book reviews that I fell into a blubbering heap in the corner at the thought of catching up.

So I am not going to even try!

I will be back – just not in the immediate future – at the moment blogging feels like a chore – not the joy it once was. When the urge comes back (and it will) I will be back once more.

So…for now I am resting and reading…just for me

April Reading Wrap Up

April Reading Wrap Up

Welcome to my April reading wrap-up, even though I am SO far behind in my reviews it is not funny, they are a work in progress at the moment:

The total of books I read in April was: 11

Of these: 4 were Library Books, 3 were E-books and 4 were from my physical TBR pile

Then: Out of the books I read I discovered 4 ‘new for me’ authors (i.e. the first time I have read their work).

And: 6 of the books read were written by Australian authors.

Best Book of the month: May was another good reading month for me – as far as quality went. I actually had three ‘A’ reads this month. I give ‘A’s (or 5 stars) to books that, regardless of genre, are complete page turners for me, that have me reading late into the night, suck me straight into the story and leaves me wanting more at the end; and I utterly recommend it. If I give a high score to a book it means it is a top example of whatever genre it belongs to.

The genres that made it into my top 3 were two Women’s Fiction and a YA Dystopian books. The books were ‘The Chocolate Promise’ by Josephine Moon, ‘Pandora Jones: Reckoning’ by Barry Jonesberg and ‘An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding’ by Christina Jones. All three are top of their respective genre and are all highly recommended as such – but overall my book of the month was PANDORA JONES: RECKONING by Barry Jonesberg because I have been hanging out for this book as it is the final of a YA Dystopian trilogy, and as such I expected so much from it, author Barry Jonesberg did not let me down.

Least Favourite Book(s):

I say ‘least favourite’ because my lowest ‘score’ still means it is very readable, but for one reason or another I found it a bit of struggle to stay focused and finish. I only struggled with one book this month so my least favourite was Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey.

Having said this, the book has received glowing reviews elsewhere, but it just wasn’t for me at this point of time – this is just my personal opinion and you may find that it may very well be perfect for you.

General Summary:

Because I am an eclectic reader I read many different genres, sometimes at the same time! This month the different genres covered were Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Dystopian, Women’s Fiction, Magic Realism, Historical (set over 50 years ago), Contemporary Fiction (set in the last 50 years) and non-fiction. Many of the books were a blend of two or more genre.

The 6 Australian authors for April were 2 of the new-for-me authors James Bradly and Carly Lane; along with Sarah Gai, Josephine Moon, Meredith Resce and Barry Jonesberg. Just to clarify an Australian author is defined by me as either an Australian born author no matter where they live and write in the world now, or an author who currently lives and writes in Australia even though they have been born elsewhere.

Finally, the 4 ‘new-for-me’ authors this month were my two Aussie authors James Bradly and Carly Lane; along with Christina Jones and Anna Lyndsey and I would happily read all of these new authors again.

Interesting book related links that I’ve come across this month:

I thought I would share a few of my ‘Bookie’ links with you this month. Where I go to get inspired to read – my sources of information

FANTASTIC FICTION is a wonderful source – having information on over 30,000 authors and 350,000 books. There are also list about new authors, new books, books coming soon, most Popular and top authors. A favourite of mine are the countries list (want to read a book set in Eritrea or Montserrat – they’re on the list) the years list (need an author who was born or died in 1943 – it’s on the list) and the awards (which includes a list of most awarded books). The site is just information and there is no forum or chit chat – but you will spend hours wandering through it.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/

GOODREADS is the place to go if you want to talk about books with other people. Not only will you find reviews about books – you can make friends, discover which of your friends are already there and if you like chatting books then you will find a group to suit just about every reading scenario you would like. Within the groups are reading related games, reading challenges (oh be still my beating heart) and there are even some giveaways and lists of books. You like dragons – search Listopia and there will be dragon book suggestions coming out of your ears!!! It is free to join and you can track your books on your own set of shelves – and there is an Apple application so you can tell at a glance what books you already own so there is no double ups when you’re in a book shop. I belong to a few groups and I am kept very busy reading and discussing books and off topic subjects.

https://www.goodreads.com/

MYSTERIES – if you like reading mysteries the ‘Stop You’re Killing Me’ is my favourite go to page. There is a list of authors each with a chronological list of their books which covers both their series and stand-alones. There are also indexes to help you find characters who live in particular countries (a PI from Mexico maybe) or by occupations (an investigator who is a dancer – or an Interior decorator maybe) there is even an area to search for elderly people or Amish; historical era (Ancient Egyptian mystery anyone?) as well as type of mystery – cosy, hard boiled, vampire, physiological Triller. This site will certainly fill up your notebook with new suggestions to follow up on.

http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/

The List

So let’s get onto what this post is about – what did I read during April? Here is the list of books that I read during the last month (each group is in the order I read them):

A = Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down

The Chocolate Promise by Josephine Moon – Women’s Fiction

An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding by Christina Jones – Women’s Fiction

Pandora Jones: Reckoning by Barry Jonesberg – YA Dystopian Science Fiction

B = Really Good Read

Green Valley by Meredith Resce – Historical Romance

Clade by James Bradly – Dystopian Science Fiction

Burnt by Carly Lane – Romance

Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen – Historical Mystery

My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg – Contemporary YA

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen – Magic Realism

C = Above Average – very readable and enjoyable

Curve My Attitude by Sarah Gai – Romance

D = Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey – Memoir

So onward to May – Woo Hoo! I wonder what book goodies I will discover this month? I wonder if I will catch up on my reviews!

Clade by James Bradly

Title: Clade

Author: James Bradly

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Opens: As Adam steps outside the cold strikes him like a physical thing, the shock still startling after all these weeks

My Thoughts: I have to confess I had never heard of the book CLADE or its author James Bradly until it was discussed on the Sunday Book club on ABC recently. CLADE is an unusual book in that it looks the scenario of the possible effects of climate change and how it impacts on the world through the eyes of three generations of one family, the Leith family, and some characters who come into contact with them. Bradley’s scenario is frightingly plausible.

Starting around 2016 the story moves through in a series of 10 narratives (or chapters) that are not linked in any real way except that a member of the family appears in it. There can be years between chapters before Bradley decides to pop back into the story and give the reader a snapshot of where the family, and the world, is at now.

CLADE opens with Dr Adam Leith and his artist wife Ellie trying to conceive a child – he is a scientist and is down in the Antarctica and she is in Sydney waiting to hear if this time the IVF process has been successful. He hears the ice beneath him creaking and groaning and understands this is the ice loosening up as the earth warms up. He worries about whether they should bring a child into the world. And the book continues each chapter jumping through history and gives a snapshot of what the family is doing against the background of a rapidly escalating global meltdown. The Earth is dying. Changing weather patterns result in hurricanes hitting Europe and Monsoons failing. Fish and birds start dying, massive floods kill thousands and a flu like virus kills millions. The temperatures steadily rise, civil unrest increases and world economies fall. Yet the day to day activity of the characters remain the same, they just get on with living as the earth throws yet another challenge at them. The reader gets to see snapshots of events through Adam and Ellie, their daughter, their grandson, a Chinese teenager Adam sort of adopts and a refugee from Bangladesh that Ellie connects with. This makes the story very personal, as the reader experiences the events as they affect the characters making it all very, very believable.

On the whole I liked the way the story progressed as a series of snapshots as the world deteriorated. I have to confess that sometimes it took me a while to get the connection to the family and it left me slightly adrift until I did, but as soon as I clicked I was off again. Was left a bit bewildered over the ‘Sim’ section and still not sure I have fully got that part. Overall though despite the steady decline in the conditions of the earth there is hope at the end of CLADE – it’s a bit out there – but why not, nothing else was working to stop the planet’s deterioration. In the end CLADE is not all doom and gloom – although there is a lot of it, it is more a story about how the human race is determined to look for solutions, adapt and fight to live – it is life but not as we know it.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 291 other followers