Net Galley

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April 2016 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

Published April 7, 2016 by bibliobeth

kindle

Hi everyone, can you believe it’s April already? This year is just zooming by and I’m becoming very aware of my backlog of reviews. I have been particularly unwell recently so apologies for the lack of reviews, I’m hoping to get one out tomorrow and then resume normal service and will hopefully be writing a blog post to explain exactly what’s going on although as I mentioned earlier on Twitter, I’m a bit nervous about it as I don’t normally do personal posts. Huge thank you to the lovely Hannah at Broc’s Bookcase  who sent me a brilliant message of support earlier – big bookish blogger hugs to her! So anyway, here is what I’ll be attempting to get through this April – all those poor Kindle books that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and plenty of ARC’s which definitely should have been read before now. I’ll link them to GoodReads so you guys can check out what they’re all about and when I get round to writing the review I’ll then link that. Have a great April everyone!

The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney

(copy provided from BookBridgr and also long-listed for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016)

Dead Set – Will Carver

(copy provided from NetGalley)

Horns – Joe Hill

(copy on Kindle)

Necropolis – Guy Portman

(copy provided from author)

Shadow Of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) – Deborah Harkness

(copy provided from BookBridgr)

Gift Of Time: A Family’s Diary Of Cancer – Rory MacLean

(copy provided from NetGalley)

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements – Sam Kean

(copy on Kindle)

The Spirit Guide – Elizabeth Davies

(copy provided from author/publisher)

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

(copy on Kindle)

The Secret Place – Tana French

(copy provided from BookBridgr)

 

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October 2015 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

Published October 1, 2015 by bibliobeth

kindle

I can’t believe how fast this year is going! It’s time for a regular feature now on my blog and it involves me doing some much needed catch up with review copies I’ve been sent and books on my kindle that I’ve been meaning to get to for months. So for most of October I shall be reading:

The Snow Kimono – Mark Henshaw

(courtesy of Book Bridgr)

Vatican Waltz – Roland Merullo

(courtesy of NetGalley)

Bats Sing, Mice Giggle: The Surprising Science of Animals’ Inner Lives – Karen Shanor, Jagmeet Kanwal

(bought for Kindle)

The Death Of Danny Daggers – Haydn Wilks

(courtesy of author)

Glow – Ned Beauman

(courtesy of Book Bridgr)

Beloved Strangers: A Memoir – Maria Chaudhuri

(courtesy of NetGalley)

The Book Of Souls – James Oswald

(bought for Kindle)

To Sea – Michael LoCurto

(courtesy of author)

The Ladies Of The House – Molly McGrann

(courtesy of Book Bridgr)

The Little Black Dress – Linda Palund

(courtesy of author)

This Fragile Life – Kate Hewitt

Published September 16, 2015 by bibliobeth

18285597

What’s it all about?:

You love your best friend. You trust her with your life. But could you give her the most precious gift of all?

Alex’s life is a mess. She’s barely holding down a job, only just affording her apartment, and can’t remember when she was last in a relationship. An unexpected pregnancy is the last thing she needs.

Martha’s life is on track. She’s got the highflying career, the gorgeous home and the loving husband. But one big thing is missing. Five rounds of IVF and still no baby.

The solution seems simple. Alex knows that Martha can give her child everything that she can’t provide. But Martha’s world may not be as perfect as it seems, and letting go isn’t as easy as Alex expected it to be. Now they face a decision that could shatter their friendship forever.

What did I think?:

I spotted this book a while ago on Net Galley and was intrigued by the synopsis, having read something similar fairly recently, Dear Thing by Julie Cohen which I loved. This was also a bit of a gamble for me as I was unsure whether the book could compare to Cohen’s story but I was delighted to discover that I thoroughly enjoyed This Fragile Thing too! Many thanks to Carina (Harlequin UK) and Net Galley for approving my request and letting me experience this emotional and surprising novel.

The story is told by alternating points of view from two best friends, Alex and Martha who couldn’t be more different if they tried. Alex is a quirky character, easy-going and fun with an apartment she can barely afford and a relaxed attitude to love and life. Martha on the other hand is happily married to Rob with a beautiful house, dream job and is quite a perfectionist who likes her life just so without any messy deviations. Martha seems to have it all in one sense, but under that controlled exterior she is nursing a secret heartbreak. She has been trying to have a family for years and as the novel begins she has just found out that her fifth round of IVF has failed. This is not really great timing for her friend Alex to fall pregnant entirely by accident, especially when Alex is determined that she would make an awful mother and doesn’t have the resources to raise a child yet doesn’t want to have an abortion.

However, Martha sees a silver lining in this mess. If Alex kept the child and acted as a surrogate, Martha and Rob could then adopt the baby and everyone lives happily ever after, right? When Martha springs this amazing solution onto Alex she is surprised but at the same time relieved and after all, she would be doing this beautiful thing that would give her best friend everything she had ever wanted. It seems to have come along with perfect timing in Martha’s eyes as she and Rob had decided that if the last IVF failed, they wouldn’t try again. Nine months is a long time though…and when Alex finds out some shocking news, the fragility of their friendship is pushed to breaking point, something which may be impossible to recover.

This book was a really fantastic read. I mentioned before that I wasn’t sure how it would compare to a similar book I have read but I needn’t have had any worries at all, it stood in its own right as a magnificent tear-jerker of a novel. I found myself continually questioning how strong the bonds of friendship have to be when they are challenged, the beauty of motherly love and how to accept the fact that you may never have a child, despite how ready or super-qualified you may feel you are to do the job. I loved all three characters as individuals although I had issues with all of them throughout the novel. It took me quite a while to warm to Martha as her exterior seemed so cold and controlling while at the same time my heart absolutely broke for her and what she was suffering. Her husband Rob was so patient and loving although he does some questionable things through the novel and I loved Alex for her free spirit and how she grew as a person as the story continued. All of them have flaws, and no-one is perfect but that’s what made the book feel so authentic and I believed in every one of them.

I’ve decided not to reveal the twist in the novel because it made the book so much more special for me not knowing what to expect and added an extra “oomph” to the story. I’ve seen a few other reviews on Good Reads that have done so read these with caution if you haven’t read this book before! When this twist appeared it was honestly like a sucker punch to the stomach – I was so shocked and so surprised. This Fragile Life is an emotional story already without this added twist and when it comes it takes the book onto a whole new level of heart-break and suffering. I haven’t actually read anything by Kate Hewitt before and this story has really inspired me to pick up some of her other work. So, prepare to be moved, shocked, saddened but ultimately uplifted by something with real depth and emotion that has to be read to be believed.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Summer We All Ran Away – Cassandra Parkin

Published May 4, 2015 by bibliobeth

18006749

What’s it all about?:

When nineteen year old Davey finds himself drunk, beaten and alone, he is rescued by the oddly-assorted inhabitants of an abandoned and beautiful house in the West Country. Their only condition for letting him join them is that he asks them no questions.
More than thirty years ago in that same house, burned-out rock star Jack Laker writes a ground-breaking comeback album, and abandons the girl who saved his life to embark on a doomed and passionate romance with a young actress. His attempt to escape his destructive lifestyle leads to deceit, debauchery and even murder.

As Davey and his fellow housemate Priss try to uncover the secrets of the house’s inhabitants, both past and present, it becomes clear that the five strangers have all been drawn there by the events and the music of that long-ago summer.

What did I think?:

First of all I’d like to thank NetGalley and Legend Press for allowing me to read a copy of this intriguing debut novel. I have to admit I was initially drawn to this book by the simple yet absolutely beautiful and very effective cover art and a synopsis which sounded anything but dull. Unfortunately I appear to be in the minority group of readers that didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I was going to. It starts brilliantly enough, when a runaway called Davey is saved from the streets by Tom and Kate who along with sixteen year old Priss are living in a beautiful old house. At first, Davey assumes the same as the reader, that is that Tom and Kate are the owners of the house but it turns out that not only are they not a couple but they are all squatting in a house abandoned in mysterious circumstances.

As the story continues, we learn a lot more about the houses’ previous inhabitants, in particular those of thirty years ago where a rock star called Jack Laker, burnt out at the height of his fame is planning an almighty come-back. His back story sees him neglecting one girl who saves his life and falling head over heels in love with another girl called Matilda (who appears to have a few secrets of her own) and looking after a black panther who he keeps caged in the garden. Yes, I know. It’s a bit strange. However, Jack cannot maintain a rock star lifestyle without there being consequences and with the arrival of the mute and mysterious artist Isaac, emotions become heightened, dangerous and overwhelming with drastic results for those involved.

The story flips between the past (Jack’s story) and the story of the inhabitants at the present time. Even the house becomes a character in its own right – oh the things it must have witnesssed! They all have their own back story, some traumatic, some practically unbelievable. Not everyone is what they seem. And of course there is a link between the two stories which adds a nice little twist to the proceedings. I had already guessed it which was a bit of a shame as I like to be surprised (or proved wrong!) but I enjoyed the way the author pulled the two strands together. In general, I did like this book and as a debut it’s incredibly promising but for some reason I didn’t really connect with any of the characters so never felt fully invested in the story. There is some great writing here though and huge potential for the future so I look forward to reading more from Cassandra Parkin.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

 

April 2015 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

Published April 1, 2015 by bibliobeth

kindle

It’s that time again. One whole month devoted to catching up with some review copies, books I’ve received from Book Bridgr and NetGalley and those poor forgotten books on my Kindle that I’ve been meaning to get around to. Here’s what I’ll be reading this April (linked to GoodReads and then my review once written):

Strange Girls And Ordinary Women – Morgan McCarthy

(courtesy of BookBridgr)

Noah’s Rainy Day – Sandra Brannan

(courtesy of NetGalley)

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

(bought for Kindle)

Getting Rooted In New Zealand – Jamie Baywood

(from author)

This Is The Water – Yannick Murphy

(courtesy of BookBridgr)

Divinity And The Python – Bonnie Randall

(courtesy of NetGalley)

The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce

(borrowed from Chrissi Reads for Kindle)

Off Key – Mark Robertson

(from author)

Roseblood – Paul Doherty

(courtesy of BookBridgr)

Piano From A 4th Storey Window – Jenny Morton Potts

(from author)

There’s a lot of goodies on this list I’m looking forward to. I’m really excited about The Girl On The Train and Queenie Hennessy (as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is one of my all time favourite books). Bring it on April, I’m ready for you!

Broken Forest (Daath Chronicles #1) – Eliza Tilton

Published March 19, 2015 by bibliobeth

17797999

What’s it all about?:

Hopeless he’ll never be more than the boy who didn’t save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables.

And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.

His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn’s golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino’s world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.

He failed his family once. He won’t fail again.

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to NetGalley and Curiosity Quills Press for allowing me to read a copy of this fantasy/young adult novel in exchange for an honest review. I was initially attracted to this novel by its intriguing premise which involves a quest, strange creatures (and strange humans, to be frank) and a supposedly mythological other world ruled by your average tyrant. Our main character is a humble and quite ordinary young man called Avikar who works on his family’s farm. Sadly, the family have undergone a recent tragedy where Avikar’s younger brother drowned and as Avikar was in charge of looking after him at that time, he has never got over his extreme guilt. As a result, when his sister Jeslyn is kidnapped, Avikar is determined to bring her back, whatever the cost.

Unfortunately, Avikar’s mission is going to be far from easy. Jeslyn has been taken to the land of Daath, known as the thirteenth country that has been mostly forgotten by the other twelve countries and exists purely as a myth. The country is beautiful, lush, colourful, magical and vibrant and ruled by Luciano who is searching for a bride. Luciano is not your normal bridegroom however. In fact, it would be a push to actually call him human! He is a shape-shifter and a very dangerous and powerful being whose people feed off the auras of ordinary humans. He has captured Jeslyn under pretence of making her his bride to rule alongside him but he actually just wants to feed off her, as she has a particularly pleasant and rare golden aura.

So, the quest is on. Armed with his best friend (who is also Jeslyn’s love interest) Derrick, he sets off to try and rescue his sister. However, naughty Luciano isn’t going to make his journey a walk in the park. The brave young men have many battles and thrilling adventures and meet with some very interesting and deadly individuals along the way. As they get nearer to their goal, Avikar seems to become more mature and even more determined almost as if he has “become a man” and there is even potential for love with the introduction of Raven, a fiesty and independent young woman whom they meet on the journey. They had better hurry though – with each day that passes Jeslyn is falling deeper under Luciano’s intoxicating spells and there is a danger that they will not be able to get her back.

This story had oodles of potential and as I mentioned at the beginning, I really loved the premise. The world-building is good but I wished that the author had put in more descriptions about Daath, it seemed a fascinating land and I felt that I couldn’t really picture it in as much detail as I would have liked. As for the characters, I think there are a few that are excellent like Avikar, Luciano and Raven. In Avikar, I enjoyed reading about his individual journey and how he changed as a person, Luciano was an ideal villain who left me wanting more and Raven was gutsy and strong-minded (I do enjoy my female characters with a bit of a bite!). My criticism has to be the character of Jeslyn. I so, so wanted her to be strong and I felt she was a bit two-dimensional, kept fainting all the time, mooned over Luciano a bit too much and didn’t really seem to consider Derrick, her boyfriend at home! Aside from this minor annoyance, it is quite a good read, although I don’t think I’ll be rushing to read the second in the series unless Jeslyn grows a backbone, it would just irritate me too much. Fans of the genre however will definitely enjoy it.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Brotherhood – Lawrence R. Deering

Published March 7, 2015 by bibliobeth

18178262

What’s it all about?:

Aaron Davis joins his father’s ministry at seven years of age. He attracts national attention when he heals a woman of cancer. His services draw thousands of worshipers. He creates an organization with his sister Esther, called the Brotherhood of Man, that unites the major religions of the world. He brokers a treaty that ends the conflict in the Middle East and Northern Africa. He fields a powerful army to maintain the peace. Jack Holder, a former Congressman, becomes President. The United States is under intense international pressure to join the Brotherhood of Man’s effort to create a new world order. Jack’s secret Masonic organization wants Aaron Davis eliminated. Barbara Holder, Jack’s religious wife, believes Aaron Davis is the Antichrist. The fate of the world will depend on which side Jack chooses.

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to NetGalley and Authorhouse Press for allowing me to read a copy of The Brotherhood, an intriguing novel with an exciting premise. It tells the story of a remarkable young boy called Aaron Davis whom at the tender age of seven joins his father’s ministry and becomes instantly famous after he manages to heal a woman suffering from cancer. His father is overjoyed at first, imagining the potential for his business but things become slightly difficult when people flock in their hundreds to the preachers events, some who have debilitating illnesses and are hoping to be cured, others just to catch a glimpse of the young boy who performs miracles on a daily basis and whose fame now eclipses his fathers.

On growing up, Aaron and his sister Esther form a new religious organisation with Aaron as the ultimate leader known as The Brotherhood of Man. Aaron’s goal is to use representation from each major religion of the world and combine them into just one religion – his. On some levels, he is very successful. He manages to draw up peace treaties in troubled areas of the world like the Middle East and parts of Africa and mounts the largest army the world have ever seen whose sole function is to maintain the peace. Apparently.

Meanwhile, Congressman Jack Holder is about to become President of the United States and is under increasing pressure from The Brotherhood of Man to join and accept them as a new power in the world. Jack is actually a secret Mason and his society have many doubts about Aaron Davis and the new religion in general and believe he might actually be more of a danger to the world. Even Jack’s ultra-religious wife has misgivings and has been studying the Book of Revelations convinced that he may in fact be the Anti-Christ. So is Aaron a genuine religious leader or does he have a darker side? And can President Holder risk upsetting the organisation which is gathering more followers, more media coverage and more power as the days go by?

As I mentioned before, I think this novel had a fascinating premise and I suspect that the author may have used a lot of his personal experiences in the Southern Baptist Church in his writing. It is a bit of a slow-burner as all the characters are established and unfortunately I didn’t feel a connection with many of them. It almost feels like the author put so much work into Aaron’s character that a lot of the others, many of whom had great potential, were left on the back burner. Aaron’s sister in particular, Esther, was a character I warmed to almost immediately and it would have been nice if she had been developed a bit further. However, I have to say that after a short while, the suspense and action were ramped up and it was a very enjoyable story that made me eager to find out what happened next. There’s a few excting twists and turns where secrets are revealed and even my own thoughts on religion felt challenged, which I loved. I would probably read another novel by this author as I enjoyed the pace once it got going and the compelling and unique ideas which built this story in the first place.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art