Sunday 31 May 2015

Blog Tour - The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen

Looking forward to the Blog Tour for The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen, which has quite an intriguing premise. The main character has an extremely interesting twist to her, so I hope you pop by on the 4th of June 2015 to discover out more.

To find out what my fellow bloggers are saying about this book just hop, skip, click on the links I have provided on the days they are featuring this spectacular novel.


                                                  3rd of June 

4th of June

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6th of June bookaddictshaun.

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Nikki Owen is an award-winning writer and columnist. Previously Nikki was a marketing consultant and a University teaching fellow before turning to writing full time.

As part of her degree, she studied at the acclaimed University of Salamanca - the same city where her protagonist of The Spider in the Corner of the Room, Dr Maria Martinez, hails from.

The Spider in the Corner of the Room is Nikki's debut international novel - the first in a trilogy - and will be published in several languages. In 2014 the trilogy was optioned by NBC International Televison for a one-hour returnable TV series.

Come back on the 4th and find out what I have to say about The Spider in the Corner of the Room.

Friday 29 May 2015

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

This is the type of book that tends be the opposite of what you were expecting. Is it about family? Absolutely. Do they have many secrets? Certainly.

The focus and entire plot revolves around the house the children of this family grew up in, more importantly it is also about the woman of the house. The mother, their mother, their father's wife and the grandmother of their children.

Lorelei draws such an intense line around her own personal world, often there isn't much space left for anyone else. Not even those closest to her.

Throughout the duration of the book it becomes apparent that the downwards spiral of Lorelei is linked to Rhys and his tragic death. Indeed everyone seems to carry such a heavy layer of guilt because of his death. All roads seem to lead back to him.

I really enjoyed the complexity of this story.We tend to see hoarders in a certain light on television. Jewell gives the reader a well researched insight into the mind-set and struggle of a hoarder, and their family members.

In the book the'why' of the hoarding is described in a really sweet way, but very specific to Lorelei. She needs to hold on to everything, because each item is attached to a memory and to hold on to the memory she has to keep the item in question. Seems completely logical when you think about it, however when those items start filling up each space in the house.

When it came to the family dealing with Lorelei the sense of utter helplessness and of giving up was really sad. Obviously dealing with their own problems has to come first, despite that there seems to a level of disconnect between all of them and perhaps they even neglect their mother. Neglect is a really harsh word, especially when you consider how hard it must be for all of them to deal with her obsession.

Overall I think this book was a surprise, it had a layer of depth and sincerity to it I just wasn't expecting.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

For Estep readers, who know the Gin Blanco 'Spider' series, you will know what I mean when I say Lila is kind of like a very young Gin.

An abundance of energy with a will of steel, a tragic past and a need for vengeance.

Much like Gin, Lila also has a sort of mentor and guide, who watches over the orphan and her best interests. I think it is both interesting and surprising the way Estep has created a new character in an old environment. Indeed the popular recipe will probably work again, but I would really enjoy seeing her branch out and risk a few steps in new directions.

Of course that doesn't detract from the fact this is a good story for both younger and older readers. A good old  YA Urban Fantasy filled with magic and monsters. A reboot for Gin lovers.

Lila has made herself believe she doesn't need any family, but I think deep inside she understands how much she needs Mo and now perhaps even the members of her new employer's family. Everyone underestimates her powers and talents. Most importantly they have no idea just how tough she is under her girly exterior.

Despite having a healthy respect for her dangerous surroundings and the monsters lurking in the dark, she still has trouble controlling her gut reactions. It certainly does make for some awkward situations.

On a more personal note, I think I could do with my very own pixie to make my bed nd bring me treats. Where can I buy one? I will even take a bolshy one like Oscar. Added bonus to the story has to be the monster under the bridge. I need to make sure to take coins with me to pay the toll. Just in case.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.

Buy Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) and Bright Blaze of Magic.

More of the Estep's Elemental Assassin series here: Spider's TrapPoison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow and Heart of Venom.

Winter Siege by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman

Although started by Ariana Franklin this manuscript has been completed by her daughter Samantha Norman. It is a mixture of Franklin with a breath of fresh air from Norman.

It will be interesting to see Norman develop her own individual style and voice, which is certainly evident in this book.

The story begins with the deathbed revelations or unburdening of guilt by an abbot. He is having the details written down by a scribe. The tale begins in the tumultuous and violent years of civil war in Britain, during which King Stephen and Empress Matilda fought each other for the throne. The abbot's tale wanders between the fates or stories of King Stephen and Empress Matilda, Em and Gwil, and Maud.

I enjoyed the inner dialogue Gwil has with himself and God. His conscience speaks to him, as if it were a third-party just along for the ride and having his say on the matter. He accepts Em's transition to Penda as part of her dealing with the traumatic experience she has lived through.

I'm not sure whether splitting the story in three directions was intentional and it was probably only done to support the historical flow of the story. At times the connection or need for the multiple directions wasn't very apparent. The main focus for me was always Em and Gwil, and the real importance of Maud's part in their story doesn't really become clear until much later on.

I have to say the end was a surprise. I usually cotton on to those kind of things quite quickly, but it didn't even dawn on me to consider that particular scenario. Overall this is a heart-warming tale of love and support, endurance and bravery with a side portion of political confusion to top it all off.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Boko Haram 'Inside Nigeria's Unholy War' by Mike Smith

Even Al-Qaeda has criticized the mindless killing of their fellow Muslims and many civilians by regional groups.

When you are being called out by the most renowned terrorist group for being disingenuous to the global cause then I guess everyone else can question the validity of their so-called 'cause.'

What it comes down to is that this group is fuelled by greed and the pleasure of committing violence.

The boys and men who are recruited to join, do so because they are interested foremost in financial gain.

The Nigerian President and the government claim that they are trying to cease the violence, but say that the members of the group are faceless ghosts. They stand accused of using military raids to try to flush them out, and yet in doing so harm and kill many innocent civilians.

I think the book could have done with a little more structure from a chronological point of view. I understand wanting to try and give some historical details or an overview to be able to comprehend how and why certain events have taken place, but it was a wee bit all over the place.

However the main focus is and should be this monstrous group of terrorists, which is holding Nigeria and innocent people to ransom, Smith makes valid points about specific connections to other terrorist groups, the corruption of police and state, and the lack of help from other countries.

As the title rightly says this isn't a holy war, because Boko Haram is driven by greed and not by religion.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

A Letter to My Cat by Lisa Erspamer

If you're a cat lover and/or a cat owner then this book is probably going to warm your wee cockles. It might make you smile, laugh or perhaps even shed a tear.

This book is a conversation between cats and their owners. An ode to their feline friends, a moment to reflect upon their favourite memories, why they love them and what makes them so special.

It features letters from Rosanna Arquette and Luna, Anne Marie Avey and Colonel Meow, Tony Azevedo and Snow, Ellie Barancik and Francis & Ollie.

Now, cat owners quickly come to the realisation that the cats are running the show. They own their humans and not the other way round.

They are like miniature lions with the attitude of an Egyptian Pharaoh. Their independent nature is what makes them both lovable and exasperating.

The book is what I would call a coffee table book (obviously I mean the hardcover). A visual treat for readers. It is the perfect gift for animal lovers. The photographs are absolutely adorable and certainly do these beautiful creatures plenty of justice.
You see that face?...No further comment necessary
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books, via Edelweiss.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

The Lie by C.L. Taylor

I can't tell you how worrying and scary this cult scenario is. How easy it is for people to be drawn in, especially young people who are still 'looking' for themselves and a meaning in life.

They are sucked in by promises of a utopia, of enlightenment and of eternal happiness.

The leaders of cults are usually charming, enigmatic and have personalities capable of drawing everyone around them in. This is exactly how the girl's experience Isaac in the beginning, before his true nature is revealed.

The dynamic between the four girls is dysfunctional, abusive at times and not what I would call proper friendships. Friends don't try to hurt, humiliate and harm their friends. It is more than just the brainwashing going on in the commune, both Daisy and Leanne take pleasure in Emma's pain and discomfort.

After what has happened I am surprised Jane isn't more cautious and suspicious of the people around her, especially when they spend all their time asking questions about her. All her alarm bells should have been going off.

Taylor is quite good at creating the type of story that makes you talk to the book.When you tell the main character not to go there and do that. No really, just don't go there.

Buy The Lie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The C.L. Taylor

Read The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Friday 1 May 2015

Talent For Humanity

Talent For Humanity is edited and introduced by Patrick Gaffney and foreword is written by Thierry Sanchez.

This book presents the stories of  people, who have had and are still having a great impact on their fellow humans.

Readers learn about their individual paths or journeys of enlightenment and their discovery of self.

My Seven Voyages by Reza
His voyages into the Persian culture and how deeply he has been influenced by the words and poetry of said culture. He explains how he came to understand the true meaning of injustice and his road leads to a crossroads. Making the choice between two roads 'one of inaction and renunciation or the exposure and denunciation of injustice.'

His path leads him right into the open arms of the Shah's secret police. Reza mentions the months of torture almost in passing, as if it is a mere blip on his radar. His letter to humanity speaks of the tool with which he chooses to communicate the pain, turmoil and journeys of his fellow humans.

Making the World a Better Place Through the Arts by Sherry & Bob Jason.
Many decades ago Sherry and Bob Jason 'created a non-profit organization called City Hearts, which is dedicated to bringing the arts to underprivileged children.Giving them the opportunity to experience creative arts in a way they would possibly never have the chance to. 'Our goal was to show these children that there were other choices they could make- positive ones.' Their letter to humanity speaks of helping young people to find their path and putting their talents to work.

In the UK both the Primary and Secondary Schools always try to introduce a steady flow of the creative arts, especially to children in low socio-economic areas, because realistically they will never get to experience them in their home life. It does give them a new perspective and opens their eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.

Rise! by Aliza Hava
Aliza's experience with injustice was on a personal level and started very early on in her life. When she discovered music she realised the career she wanted to embark upon.She had a profound experience after reading a specific book, which changed the way she understood and embraced what she calls 'God consciousness.' Her letter to humanity speaks of her deep connection to her faith and her hope that others will find inspiration in her experience and words.

In My Own Voice by Deeyah Khan
Deeyah uses the phrase 'music is my home and my exile' to describe a doorway into her special place. Perhaps a doorway she needed, because she grew up as an outsider. I understand completely how she experienced growing up as a foreigner, outsider or as someone, who is perceived as different from the majority. Her passion to have a voice puts her life in physical danger, despite that Deeyah decides to give a voice to others.

She specifically sheds a light on the topic of honour killings that take place even when the victims live in countries, where it is clearly deemed a crime. Deeyah set up to empower young Muslim women. Her letter to humanity is actually a very heartfelt appeal to one of these victims, an apology of sorts, because society is still not doing enough to protect them.

Connecting the Dots by Yarrow Kraner
Spending a significant time of his life bearing the brunt of the 'anger and resentment against white people' on a Native American reservation. He uses his negative experiences to empower others.'Superheroes aren't simply the characters we see on the big screen.' His letter to humanity speaks about the ability to envision and believe.

On Tastes, the Journey and Clowning by Daniele finzi Pasca
I want to start Daniele's segment with his poignant words 'In the very early morning, we would pick up the bodies of those who had died during the night.' His letter to humanity speaks about fear being so controlling that it traps us in a corner. Making use of the talents we carry in our hearts.

Putting Our Heart into The World by Patrick Gaffney
Patrick asks important questions, 'why is it so difficult for us to think and act out of altruism and not out of self-interest.' It describes how humans in general tend to fixate on themselves. Selfish rather than selfless. How we can improve our own self-worth,  morale and positive feelings if we volunteer and help others. His letter to humanity is to leave a blank page for the reader so they can write your own Letter to Humanity.

A common thread within the people in these stories is being an outsider and/or a minority in the midst of a majority. In the introduction Gaffney points out that this isn't supposed to be a self-help book. Instead it is a way of honouring men and women, who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Paying tribute in form of a book.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.