Book Chick City - Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Sat, 25 Apr 2015 18:44:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My First YouTube Video – Eeeek! Sat, 25 Apr 2015 18:42:53 +0000 OMG, this is so scary, but here is my first YouTube video. It’s more of an intro really as I had NO idea what to do. I just thought, get the first one done and out of the way and hopefully the others will follow more easily. That’s the theory anyway.

I forgot to say quite a bit in this video, and although I said I wasn’t sure what my channel will be about, I do know that some of the content will be videos that compliment my blog, so a few book reviews and book related topics/discussions. I also want to talk about different aspects of my life that I hope others can relate to and maybe do a bit of vlogging too – but I think I will have to loosen up first LOL The lighting and editing will get better I promise, so please bear with me. If you have any suggestions about what kind of videos you would like to see, please let me know in the comments :)

Thanks for clicking on, and watching, my video – you just made my day! (and it’s my birthday!) 😀

Carolyn xoxo

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CURRENTLY WATCHING: Sherlock and Outlander Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:00:24 +0000 I love a good TV show, especially if it’s a long running series, so I thought it would be fun to make it a bit of a feature here at BCC. Every fortnight, me and my reviewers will be talking about the shows we are currently watching, whether they are re-runs of old classics, or shiny new series we’re excited about. This week it’s all about Sherlock and Outlander.

SherlockI’d heard lots of good things about Sherlock, but not enough to get me watching. Over the years, there has been numerous films and TV shows here in the UK and to be honest I was over Sherlock Holmes. However, I saw that Netflix had both series one and two, so on a whim I started watching, and oh my. It’s SO good. I have now finished series three, which I immediately ordered from Amazon after the first episode of season one, and I am in serious withdrawal. It seems to long to wait for the Christmas special and then series four, which is hopefully coming in 2016.

The writing is spot on, as is the characterisation. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are perfect for the roles of Sherlock and Watson respectively. I will admit to have fallen in love with Sherlock, or would it be Cumberbatch, I’m not sure, but either way, I’m totally smitten. I am Sherlocked.

Outlander TV SeriesI tried to read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon many times, but I just found the start of book one so slow that I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. This really disappointed me as I’d heard such great things about these books. So, when I heard there was going to be a TV series, I was excited. To my delight, it’s currently on Amazon Prime so I binge watched the first half of season one, and now the second half is back with an episode each Sunday.

Well. I can tell you I am hooked. And the main reason? Sam Heughan. Although I think the entire cast are great, the series is beautifully shot, and the story is engaging and exciting, the one thing that really keeps me watching, in all honesty, is Sam Heughan. He is just so lovely, and although I haven’t read the books, I’ve heard from fans of the books that he is the perfect Jamie.

What are you watching right now?


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REVIEW: When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:00:25 +0000 When We Were Friends by Tina SeskisWhat if your best friends were also the ones who could destroy you? This is the dilemma explored by When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis.

The book begins with six old university friends en route to a reunion picnic in Hyde Park, with neither one especially looking forward to the get together. The six women are aware that they always argue or chastise one another these days, with most of them wondering why they still bother with these obligatory meet-ups. Most concerned is Siobhan, who has had the day from hell at work, is still waiting for her boyfriend to propose to her, and has just spilt her homemade profiteroles all over herself. She is well aware that her friends consider her to be the ditsy one, whose life is not as fulfilled as theirs and lacks a stable relationship with the kids to match. She is also the one most prone to dramatic outbursts, which is dangerous considering the secrets she holds.

As the women continue their picnic and the prosecco keeps on flowing, the tensions continue to rise and the arguments begin. Snide comments soon escalate to a full blown row, with many secrets that have been buried for years now coming to the surface. There are allegations of murder, of rape, of adultery, and a few hysterical outbursts along the way. These revelations are excellently counterbalanced by the flashback scenes that tell the true story, especially as the flashbacks are broken up to increase the suspense. We are given the first half of a story in one scene, whilst the conclusion might not come until several chapters later.

With such violent secrets being shouted around the park, it is little surprise that the women soon decide to break up the gathering with the intention never to see each other again. However, tragedy strikes as they are making their swift exits, proving to be more life-changing than anything else that has occurred over the course of the evening. Not to mention the fact that they might have been under surveillance the whole time, this book is about how secrets never stay buried forever, and that justice is never far away.

I particularly loved the way this book was told with an intermingling of past, present and future, with the reunion picnic serving as the catalyst for all the other events of the novel. The women at the picnic were all memorable and had their own personalities carved out from the beginning, which made it easy to follow each one in their respective flashback or future sequence. Of course, as with most multiple perspective novels there were some I enjoyed reading more than others, as well as feeling that there could have been more from certain characters. There were a couple of the women who don’t really get focused on aside from their time at the picnic, with there instead being chapters from some of their husbands’ perspectives.

For me, the characters that really stood out were Renee and Juliette, as their stories seemed to be deeper and more detailed than some of the other women. Renee’s flashbacks are all about her summer in America, where she was roped into a scheme to sell encyclopaedias door-to-door. While she was out there Renee was raped, and her story slowly unravels to reveal the circumstances surrounding it and why the truth is not all it appears to be. Juliette’s past is also about a search for the truth, as we learn that she is adopted and has been trying to learn why her birth mother gave her up for adoption. We see the struggle she is having with her own children, not to mention her domineering husband, and the escape to freedom that she so badly seeks.

What this book does so well is to construct six different lives that all have the potential to be real. Each character has their own life and personal dilemmas to deal with, yet are irrevocably intertwined with each other and the secrets they all share. I liked how the husbands are cleverly written in when their perspective serves a purpose, with there being few extraneous chapters or details to detract from the tragedy of the picnic. I think everything was very carefully brought together to build up the bigger picture, and the only thing I would have liked more of was a more equal look at the women. I know a cast of six is difficult to manage, but I just wanted to know more about each of them, as well as wanting to see more of the aftermath and how their lives were affected.

Nevertheless, this book was a fantastic read and pulled me in from the beginning. With short chapters it is very easy to keep on reading, especially when each chapter takes you to a new place or perspective in the book. I think the multitude of characters was handled well, and the concluding chapter is particularly emotional and ties up the loose ends very well.

This is a great thriller about friendship and the secrets that build up over the years, especially given the toxicity of the secrets that get revealed in the course of one night. The personalities of the friends complement each other well, as each one is memorable and easy to keep track of, even given the number of flashback scenes. I enjoyed seeing their lives unravel throughout the course of the book, especially as sympathy is created for each of them and the burdens they have had to bear. With shocks throughout, this is a great book for fans of thriller writing and psychological mind games.

Rating: 4 Stars

When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis
Penguin (23 Apr 2015)
Ebook: 389 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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Rebecca’s Coveted Releases & TBR for April Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:52:35 +0000 Welcome to our monthly feature here at BCC! Each month I will be sharing a selection of releases I’m most looking forward to, as well as giving you all an insight into what is on my TBR pile for that month. I’d love to hear if you’re anticipating (or reading) the same titles as I am!


With a busy month ahead as I move to a new job, I’m hoping to read as many of these titles as I can, especially as April holds some particularly interesting releases.

1. Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling

Very Good Lives by J. K. RowlingVery out of character for this feature is a non-fiction book, but I can’t resist a single title by J. K. Rowling and I’m sure that Very Good Lives will be no different. This short book is the transcript of a speech given by Rowling at Harvard in 2008, in which she offers vital advice and wisdom for those at a turning point in their lives, questioning how we can use our imaginations to better ourselves and those around us. I, for one, am looking forward to this title for some much needed inspiration, as Rowling has a way with words that always seems relevant to my life in some shape or form, whether it be fictional or non-fictional.

Release date: 14th April, Little, Brown

2. Disclaimer by Renée Knight

Disclaimer by Renée KnightA novel that has already sparked off a lot of intrigue, I’m particularly excited for Disclaimer by Renée Knight. The book plays off a situation I’m sure that we’ve all imagined at some point in our reading lives, what if we were the main character? Well, for the protagonist of this book, Catherine, this hypothetical situation is about to become real as she picks up a book from her bedside table and finds that it is all about her. She realises that this book is about to reveal her deepest, darkest secret, which she thought no-one else knew, and is compelled to keep reading. Who wrote the book, and why? And how did it end up on Catherine’s bedside table? These are all questions which I am dying to know the answers to, and I can’t wait to read this book this month.

Release date: 9th April, Transworld

3. The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene

The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa GreeneA slightly summery read now on my Coveted Releases is The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene. Rosa and Bee get together in the run-up to Bee’s wedding and end up reminiscing about the time they spent on the Greek island of Paros when they were teenagers. It was the holiday of a lifetime and they can remember the sun, sea and sand, not to mention the converted windmill that formed their guest house. They spent the time with their friend Iona and the gorgeous local men, but the memories of this holiday force both women to confront the direction their lives have taken them, and the guilt at losing connection with Iona. They decide to return to the island on a whim, and I think this book sounds like an exciting tale of friendship with some much-needed sunshine thrown in.

Release date: 28th April, Sphere

4. Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge

Game of Scones by Samantha TongeI was drawn to this book by its title, as I love the clever play on words that is Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge. Pippa Pattinson spent her childhood summer holidays on the Greek island village of Taxos, where she spent her days dreaming about anything other than the life that her parents had mapped out for her. Rather than a stuffy banking job and sensible boyfriend, Pippa dreamed of opening a tea shop with her childhood friend, Niko, and is now returning to Taxos for the first time with her boyfriend, Henrik. She barely recognises the village she once knew and, together with Niko, they hatch a plan to save Taxos from ruin and which involves Pippa dusting off her old scone recipe and making the move to Greece. I love the sound of this book, and it’s sure to put you in the mood for the approaching summer.

Release date: 9th April, Carina UK


The books that I’m hoping to read throughout April from my ever-increasing TBR pile are:

1. When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis

When We Were Friends by Tina SeskisAfter reading the synopsis I am very keen to read When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis, which is about the reunion of university friends and the dreadful secrets that end up being revealed in their midst. The six women meet up fairly regularly for reunions, but this time things are different, as accusations are thrown around that cannot be ignored. There are allegations of rape and murder, not to mention a whole host of other life-wrecking secrets that result in tragedy. As a thriller about friendship and the secrets that could come back to haunt you, this is definitely a book that has grabbed my attention, and I really look forward to reading it. I am particularly intrigued by the fact that their university secrets have taken so long to come out into the open.

2. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go by Claire MackintoshWith the paperback releasing this month, I’m hoping to find time to read I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. Following a tragic accident, Jenna Gray’s life is turned upside down and turns into a nightmare of dramatic proportions. She flees to a tiny Welsh cottage in the hopes of escaping her old life and all who knew her, but the nightmares and the guilt about what happened continue to haunt her. As she slowly begins to come out of her shell and starts to hope again for the future, her past catches up to her and she is forced to face all that she left buried behind her. This certainly sounds like a compelling read, so I can’t wait to get stuck straight in.

3. The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee

The Last Honeytrap by Louise LeeAn interesting new series that sounds like it might be a promising read, The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee is all about the practice of entrapping men. Florence Love is a private investigator who specialises in the art of entrapment, whereby she attempts to seduce men into a five-second kiss, gaining photographic evidence for the conscious wives and girlfriends who fear that their men might cheat on them. When her next client asks her to seduce the up-and-coming pop sensation, Scott Delaney, Flo fears that she might have bitten off more than she can chew, especially when she begins to feel attracted to her target. I’m interested to see whether this title is as good as it sounds, and look forward to reviewing this during the month.

4. Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne

Redemption Road by Lisa BallantyneI seem to have been absorbed in the thriller genre recently, so Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne might well be my last one before I take a break for another genre. The book is about Margaret Holloway, who suffers a life-changing car crash and is saved by a mysterious scarred man. She remembers very little about the incident, and we begin to see that she also remembers very little about her life. Her childhood is full of memory gaps, and she now has a burning desire to find out who she is and what happened in her past, especially if it might involve her strange rescuer. I’m interested to see how this book copes with the shifts between past and present, as I often find that this is either good or bad, with there being very little space for error. Either way, this book certainly sounds interesting if the protagonist has little memory of her life.

5. Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic to the Stars - Sophie KinsellaI featured this book on my Coveted Releases post when the hardback was released but, for the sake of bookshelf space, I managed to hang on for the paperback release of Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella. In this seventh instalment to the series, Becky Brandon is moving to Hollywood and hopes to become a celebrity stylist for the top A-listers. With her husband Luke working with actress, Sage Seymour, Becky is sure to make contacts in no-time, isn’t she? Not to mention all the fashionable LA shops she can experience! I recently realised that I’ve been reading this series for almost a decade, so I can’t wait to dive straight back in to Becky’s crazy world and read about her latest adventures, especially after I’ve enjoyed the first few books so much.

I hope you’ve enjoyed me sharing my Monthly Releases and TBR, what releases do you plan to get your hands on in April?

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Changes are afoot for Book Chick City! Mon, 20 Apr 2015 20:03:19 +0000 Changes ahead daily newspaper headline

I started Book Chick City in July 2009, and as you know it began as a dedicated book blog and has remained as such up until now. Although books are my passion, I have many hobbies and have wanted somewhere to share my thoughts about them for some time. I’ve even tried setting up a second blog, along with separate social media accounts, but let me tell you, it’s hard to keep up with two of everything.

So, I have decided to evolve Book Chick City into a “Books & Lifestyle” blog by adding a few posts, unrelated to books, to my weekly schedule. I am a person and as such have different interests, and in the nearly six years I’ve had this blog, I have changed quite a bit, so I see it as only natural that my blog change with me. I am also looking into getting a new design for the blog, which is exciting, so keep an eye out for that in the near future.

For those of you who love books, you will still get your weekly dose of reviews and bookish updates, but for those who are interested in a variety of subjects, there may now be more posts of interest to you. I will be introducing the new posts over the next month or so, along with our regular books reviews, which I hope you enjoy. Thanks for sticking with Book Chick City over the years, I really do hope you understand and that you enjoy the new direction – or evolution if you will – that I’m taking Book Chick City, and join me on this new journey.

Carolyn xoxo

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MINI REVIEWS: Hot Head by Demon Suede & Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:00:43 +0000 Mini Reviews Banner 1

There are times when we read a novel, short-story or novella, and we just don’t have enough to say for a full review, so we thought it would be a good idea to write mini reviews that are, well… mini. So, here you go. If you have any questions about any of the books we review here, then just leave them in the comments and we will reply as soon as we can.

Hot Head by Damon Suede (Head #1) – Reviewed by Carolyn

Hot Head

Firefighters, Griff and Dante, have been best friends forever and see each other as “bros”. Dante is having money problems so decides to try gay website porn to help his financial woes (as you do), and of course manages to get his best friend to do it with him – literally. Now both these guys see themselves as straight at first, with Dante being a bit of a womaniser, but Griff begins to doubt his sexuality as things with Dante get more intense and heated. Soon Griff and Dante realise they actually enjoy being together sexually, and as such their feelings towards one another deepen.

There are a few ups and downs, which do help to keep the story moving forward, but Hot Head still falls a bit flat for me, it’s quite slow going and not a lot happens to be honest. The narrator was okay but not great. Overall a bit of a disappointing listen.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Contemporary M/M Romance
Dreamspinner Press (12th Oct 2012)
Audiobook: 10 Hours and 33 Minutes || Narrator: Charlie David

Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle / Audiobook || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle / Audiobook

Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick – Reviewed by Rebecca

Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick

Killing the Dead is an unsettling read that delves into the darker side of adolescence. Set in a boarding school for girls in 1963, it explores multiple perspectives of staff and students. We are faced with a teacher taking an unhealthy interest in one of his pupils, a popular girl abusing her status, and the first annual Procession since the supposed suicide of Isobel, who’s quiet existence is slowly revealed in painstaking detail.

Sedgwick manages to incorporate so many character perspectives into such a short tale, and the harrowing truth about Isobel’s death is shocking. The narrative style increases the suspense and encourages the reader to look down on the characters, making it difficult to connect with any of them. I love Sedgwick’s writing style and devoured this book in record time, but I think the plot could have been expanded, and an added scene from Isobel’s point of view would have enhanced my connection to her.

Rating: 4 Stars

Horror, Young Adult
Indigo Books (5th Mar 2015)
Paperback, 112 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Kindle

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WEEKLY ROUNDUP – 19th April 2015 Sun, 19 Apr 2015 13:55:45 +0000 Weekly Roundup Banner

Hi Guys! Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s the low down on what happened at BCC this week…



The Plan - C. DelaneyThis week I’ve really got into Hero by Samantha Young, it’s addictive reading, as I knew it would be. However, I do have a few issues with it but I will hold off on mentioning them until I write my review. Unfortunately I’ve stalled a bit on my audiobook Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon, but I have started another; The Plan by C. Dulaney (Roads Less Traveled #1), narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers, and so far it’s pretty good – albeit a bit slow. Hopefully I’ll get to finish at least one of these this coming week.


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WEEKEND READS: Heroes & Bikers! Sat, 18 Apr 2015 09:00:00 +0000 What are you reading this weekend? Anything you think we should be reading, or maybe your current read is just a bit… bleh. Whether you’re loving or hating your current read, we want to know about it! We love to hear about books (as if you didn’t know).

Here’s a run down on what we’ll be reading this weekend:


Fatal Shadows - Josh LanyonThis weekend I will still be listening to Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon, the first book in the Adrien English mystery romance series. I haven’t read anything by this author before and although I am enjoying it (and the narrator) and I will admit I’ve stalled a bit, not because of the story, but because I’ve really started to get into Hero by Samantha Young. That’s where my reading time has gone. I do have a few issues with this story, but I will wait until my review to air them. Hopefully I will read/listen to more of both this coming week.


devils gameI am continuing on with my biker romance binge. I am currently reading through Joanna Wylde’s Reapers MC series. Her writing is really easy to read, and the pages definitely keep on turning. I do sometimes find her biker heroes a bit tough to take, a bit too aggressive maybe and I mean that in a relationship sense, as I kind of expect bad bikers to be aggressive normally, it’s in the job description. Am I making sense?! However, the female leads definitely have plenty of sass. And yet, despite my concerns, I am finding them quite addictive too, I can’t seem to be able to stop reading them!

This weekend I shall continue with reading Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde – book number 3 in the series and I highly suspect I may even got straight onto book 4 next weekend.


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REVIEW: A Good Excuse to be Bad by Miranda Parker Fri, 17 Apr 2015 09:00:58 +0000 A Good Excuse to be Bad by Miranda ParkerThe first in a new series that introduces us to the sassy Angel Crawford, A Good Excuse to be Bad by Miranda Parker kicks off in dramatic style with a glance at Angel’s day job as a bail recovery agent.

What this job entails is tracking down those who have skipped bail and bringing them back into custody, with the first couple of chapters witnessing Angel (full name Evangeline) capturing a particularly dangerous criminal in a nightclub. She is injured in the process and taken to hospital, where her attractive church pastor, Justus Morgan, comes to collect her and take her home. From the beginning of the book we know that she has a huge crush on him, and it seems like he reciprocates her affections from the level of flirting between them, but she is reluctant to get too close for the sake of her young daughter, Bella.

However, this is not purely a romance novel, as the real trouble arrives when Angel’s twin sister, Ava, drops her children off in the middle of the night and then rushes straight back out to her car. Understandably worried, Angel follows Ava home with Justus at her side, only to find Ava’s husband stabbed to death at their home. The police take Ava away as the prime suspect and warn Angel not to get involved with their investigation, but she knows that her sister is innocent and can’t sit idly by whilst her sister is incarcerated.

Justus convinces Angel to bring him along as her sidekick, helping her to work out certain clues and interrogate members of Ava’s church in the hopes of clearing her name. On top of the ongoing romantic tension between them, there is the added intrigue of Angel’s past, as we know that the father of her child was a bad boy, but we don’t know how he died or what part Angel had to play in his downfall. There are also hints at Justus’ home life and troubles with his niece, but unfortunately a lot of these questions are left open for the next book.

It was the vast multitude of questions that infuriated me whilst reading this book, as even the murder case had details that were left open and not fully explained. Angel’s investigative process leads her to the killer purely by chance, and it seems to take an awful long time for her to get there, with the investigation taking the majority of the book and the final reveal only a couple of pages. There didn’t seem to be a balance between plot and character building, as there are a lot of scenes between Angel and Justus that aren’t necessarily relevant to the case, as she repeatedly tells him that it would be a bad idea for them to be involved with each other.

As much as I liked Angel for being strong and independent, not to mention being one of the sassiest characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, I also had my issues with her as well. I think the biggest thing for me was the way her speech is written in the book, as it seems stereotypically ‘street’, such as adding ‘girlfriend’ onto the end of the sentences, not to mention several other character quirks. I could overlook this at first, but as I read on it began to grow annoying and made it difficult to read the interchanges between characters. In addition, I was also frustrated that we barely see anything of Angel’s daughter, despite being told several times that she is the most important thing in Angel’s life.

She uses this excuse several times as a reason why she cannot have a relationship with him, not to mention the fact that she typically goes for bad boys and would give Justus a bad image as a pastor if he were to date her. However, they do have chemistry throughout the book, even if I didn’t particularly engage with Justus as a character. He seemed to be eternally present and claiming to be there to support Angel, but at the same time I felt that he was interfering and not giving her the space she needed. There were even moments when he interfered in her investigation without telling her, ruining a potential lead that she had and telling her to trust God for justice. He seemed against Angel investigating from the beginning, and I understood that it was because he cared about her but I just wanted him to leave her to handle it!

On the whole, I enjoyed the investigative elements of this book, even if they were exceptionally drawn out at times. There were several details that needed ironing out, but I’m hoping that these are rectified in book two and that the overall flow of the book will be improved. The epilogue raises enough mystery that you will want to jump straight into book two to find out what really happened to the father of Angel’s child, and to see if this will cause any further problems between Angel and Justus. I’m also hoping that there will be a little more character development in the future instalments.

An interesting mystery with a smart and sassy heroine, this book definitely sets up some interesting questions that need answers. However, I was disappointed that not all of these questions find answers in this first book, with there being a lot of details unaccounted for in the how and why of the crime. I found it hard to engage with some of the characters, despite loving Angel’s strength and determination, and found it hard to enjoy her scenes with Justus. The mystery solving was a little drawn out but intriguing nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

A Good Excuse to be Bad by Miranda Parker
(Angel Crawford #1)
Kensington Books (7 May 2013)
Paperback: 323 pages

Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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REVIEW: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George Wed, 15 Apr 2015 09:00:18 +0000 The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeA novel of love, loss and a new chance at life, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George serves to establish the value of reading and the meaning it can bring to someone’s life.

Jean Perdu is the owner of a stationary barge named the Literary Apothecary, from which he operates an expansive bookshop that he has built up over the past two decades. His bookshop is unique in that he only sells customers the books he thinks will benefit them the most, and will even refuse to sell a customer an inappropriate book for their emotional state. He has become an expert at gauging what will comfort people for heartbreak or grief, or even for happiness, yet is at a loss for how to fix himself.

Twenty one years ago, Perdu had a vibrant love affair with Manon, a girl from the south of France who was already engaged to another. Their love spanned a period of five years, until one day she left him with a letter and disappeared from his life, leaving him a broken man. Ever since, that letter has remained unopened with Perdu unable to face reading the words of their breakup, until he meets Catherine. She is his new neighbour and is recently divorced from her husband, facing a similar sort of loss to Perdu and seeking a new chance at love and life.

When he finally summons up the courage to open the letter, Perdu embarks upon his book barge for the south of France, wishing to lay old demons to rest before he can start his life afresh. Unexpectedly accompanied by a young author named Max, Perdu sets off on a journey of self-discovery and self-forgiveness, realising that he might have wasted the last twenty years grieving for all the wrong reasons. With only his books to trade for food and assistance, the unlikely pair set out on a journey that will change them both, and give them a fresh lease of life.

What was nice about this book was the leisurely way it explores the French canal system and the towns along the way. We are introduced to places where books are the main source of infrastructure, as well as searching for a mysterious author whose work helped Perdu through the worst of his loneliness. I particularly liked seeing how each place along the way helped to free more of Perdu’s heart, as we see him sending more postcards back to Catherine with his sentiments.

He made for an interesting protagonist as he is closed off at the beginning of the book, as we know that he lives a simple life with little furniture, but we don’t know much else about him. We are encouraged to wonder about his life and about the mysterious letter he has refused to open, with our feelings then turning to sympathy when we realise that he has been mourning his lost love and not really living. It has been decades since Perdu has done something for himself, and the personal journey he embarks upon in this book is life changing and emotional, especially when he is confronted with facts he should have faced years ago.

The bond he develops with Max is particularly touching to see, as this young writer becomes like a son to him and Perdu helps him to overcome his writer’s block. As Max’s first novel was successful, he is under pressure to produce something just as spectacular for the follow-up, which means learning a lot about life and what it means to really live. The men learn a lot from each other on their travels, mostly about love and women and opening their hearts to the possibility of romance. I think Max helps Perdu to recover some of his lost youth, as he is now approaching his fifties and has wasted his prime years by yearning for something he could never have.

As much as I enjoyed the plot and the emotional development of this book, I did think that the writing style was a little slow and laboured at times. I found it increasingly difficult to concentrate, which lessened my enjoyment of the action and I often found that I had to go back and reread certain parts. Nevertheless, this book is poignant and makes you appreciate the value of reading, especially when books are here proven to mend a broken heart or to give inspiration. In the context of this novel, books really do become a lifesaver.

A poignant tale about lost love and its impact on a man’s life, this book affirms the value of books and reading in bringing comfort to people when they need it most. The idea of a literary apothecary is unique and refreshing, and the rapport built up between Max and Perdu is touching to see, particularly towards the end. This is primarily a tale about a man rebuilding his life and learning to love again, which is beautifully told within the French scenery seen from on board the book barge.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Contemporary Fiction
Abacus (16 Apr 2015)
Ebook: 320 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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NEW SERIES ALERT: Broke and Beautiful by Tessa Bailey Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:00:57 +0000

Chase Me by Tessa Bailey (Broke and Beautiful #1)

Avon Impulse (March 17 2015)
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Chase - Tessa Bailey

College drop-out, Roxy Cumberland, moved to New York with dreams of becoming an actress, but her dwindling bank account is quickly putting the kibosh on that fantasy. To make some quick cash, she signs up to perform singing telegrams. Her first customer is a gorgeous, cocky Manhattan trust-funder if she ever laid eyes on one. And what could be more humiliating than singing an ode to his junk, courtesy of his last one night stand? Maybe the fact that she’s dressed in a giant, pink bunny costume…

After a night out to celebrate winning his last case, lawyer Louis McNally II isn’t prepared for the pounding in his head or the rabbit serenading him from the front door. But the sassy wit and sexy voice of the girl behind the mask intrigues him, and one look at her stunning face—followed by a mind-blowing kiss against his doorjamb—leaves Louis wanting more.

Roxy doesn’t need a spoiled rich boy who’s had everything in life handed to him on a Tiffany platter. But there’s more to Louis than his sexy surface and he’s determined to make Roxy see it…even if it means chasing her all over NYC.

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REVIEW: Legion by William Peter Blatty Mon, 13 Apr 2015 09:00:13 +0000 Legion by William Peter BlattyHaving not read The Exorcist, I didn’t really have any expectations when starting Legion by William Peter Blatty.

Instead, I was slightly confused when the opening of this book delves into a philosophical rambling from the main protagonist, Lieutenant Kinderman. He is preoccupied with life’s big questions, which somewhat detracts from the main event of the book as the body of a young boy is discovered. This boy was carrying out his morning paper round when he was killed at a boathouse and is found in a crucified position. However, what makes the discovery even more mysterious is the missing index finger and carving of the Gemini symbol on his hand, which were two MOs of the Gemini Killer, who is believed to be long dead.

Kinderman worked on the original Gemini Killer case and is at a loss for who could know these details, as they were never released to the press. The mystery deepens when more murders are committed, this time leading to the supposedly safe walls of a hospital, and still in keeping with the same MO. Within the hospital setting, we switch to the perspective of a neurologist, Dr Amfortas, who has a lesion on the brain and his condition is slowly deteriorating. As he begins to suffer increasing bouts of memory loss, is it possible for him to be the killer?

The plot grows increasingly creepy as we move to the psychiatric ward, with a doctor that likes to hypnotise his patients into revealing information. This is somewhat effective during police questioning, but could the hypnotist be responsible? Then there is the patient kept on lock-down in a secure area of the ward who claims to have no knowledge of his identity. Is it possible that this is the missing Gemini Killer from all those years ago? Needless to say, this book weaves so many different possibilities for the identity of the murderer that it is still difficult to say what really happened.

I tried my best to engage with the mystery that is weaved in this book, as at first the case of the crucified boy seems unrelated to the next two murders, as the following victims were both priests. This makes it harder to establish a potential motive, and I don’t think one is ever decided on throughout the entire course of the book. It was this absence of surety that began to grate on me as the plot wore on, as I was growing bored with the influx of questions that had no answers. I wouldn’t have minded so much if there was a clear paranormal influence that was meant to be left unsolved, but the book never makes it clear if the answer is possession or if there is a clear human motive and culprit responsible.

The writing was especially difficult to read, as Kinderman is not an easy protagonist to follow around during a police investigation. His relationship with his fellow officers is odd and distanced, with his conversations rarely making any sense. There are instances where there is a clear grasp of the situation and sparks of inspiration as to who to question next, but then there were moments of complete absurdity which ruined all the previous exposition. In his ramblings to his colleagues and friends, or even to interview suspects, Kinderman would randomly begin to bring in philosophical debates or biblical references that had little to do with the plot. I grew very tired of these speeches and it would have been easy to skip past these without missing anything.

In the same way, it was possible to ignore Kinderman’s references to his family, as we are treated to his frequent mockery of his mother-in-law and the on-going joke about a carp in his bathtub. If they were included in an attempt to make him seem more relatable, then this sadly failed as they added nothing to the suspense story and had very little substance. Likewise, it was hard to build up a bigger picture of Dr Amfortas, as we get to see his grief and turmoil at having to give up his career because of his condition, but know almost nothing about his life to warrant caring about him.

I was very disappointed with the character creation in this novel, as I felt that they could have been developed a lot more over the course of the book if the philosophical discussions had been cut down or excluded. It made very difficult to care about what was happening to anyone in the book, which was a shame given the complexity of the case at hand. There were moments when the suspense was superbly written and had me desperate to know more, but it was difficult to appreciate these good moments when the characters were so flawed. I would have liked a more concrete conclusion to this book, as I am still not sure what was going on at the end and found it quite bizarre.

A somewhat strangely narrated book which investigates biblical-style murders, I am still confused as to my opinion of what I have just read. The actual plotline concerning the crime is well-written and intriguing, but this is broken up by the repetitive interludes which ponder the meaning of life and various other philosophical questions. I wanted the narrative to speed up and get to the point, as there was genuine suspense created whilst interviewing the suspects and I didn’t appreciate the deviations from the main plot. The ending still throws up certain questions and uncertainties, but I thought this worked well given the paranormal style of the investigation.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Legion by William Peter Blatty
Mystery, Horror
Tor Books (1 Feb 2011)
Paperback: 333 pages

Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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