Sunday, 24 December 2017

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The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

This is apparently a debut novel for Erika Johansen and I love that a female writer so perfectly produced a must-read in a genre more typically dominated by men. Cherry on top, our protagonist is not the skinny-exquisitely beautiful-brave but mysterious usual formula for female characters in the fantasy genre, oh no, our Kelsea is chubby, loves her food and has truck loads of courage and spunk- just how we like'em.
The book starts out on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday when soldiers relucttanlty fetch her from the only  home shes ever known to escort her to the throne of the Tearling which, at that point is ruled by her corrupt uncle who not so secretly is under the thumb of the Queen of Mortmesne. Little faith is lended to her to actually get to the throne as assassins are in hot pursuit of her to make sure she never reaches the the throne. The lack luster faith of the soldiers quickly turn around when our Kelsea shows them that she's no 'dolls and dresses' type. And of course, she gets aided by the creepy Fetch who she secretly becomes smitten with.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its darkly delicious and I would imagine inspired many a late night for the fortunate people who were smart enough to acquire the whole trilogy set together *Sigh*
The Queen of the Tearling is followed by The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling.

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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

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One Dark Throne - Kendare Blake

The sequel to the former Three Dark Crowns, the anticipation for One Dark Crown saw me mentally tapping a literary foot for almost a year. Now I know that this is more suited to the late teen market, but there is something just so riveting about the three very different sisters who are used as pawns to claim the crown of Fennbirn island. The book starts off in Greavesdrake Manor, home of the formerly weak queen Katharine, who very interestingly after being thrown into the Breccia Domain because of said weakness and trusting nature, emerges as a force to be reckoned with, which pretty much sends chills up the spines of everyone who once lauded power over. Queens Mirabella and Arsinoe are no less interesting either and we see each of the three queens finding their own voices and being used less as pawns.
This book is appealing enough to an adult, which means I wouldnt recommend it to a lower age group than the mid-late teenage sphere.
Gone are the days when a books entire tale was in a single thick volume - wait, were there ever such days?? - and so dear readers, we await the next installment with due anticipation *tap, tap, tap*
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

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The Pearl Sister - Lucinda Riley

Its unfailingly interesting how Lucinda Riley takes the main mythological characteristics of each star of the Seven Sisters of Pleiades and uses it to create complex and likable characters. Though, it must have been no mean feat to write about Celaeno (CeCe to us, dear readers) who is known as the 'swarthy' or 'melon' of the constellation. Yes, I'm sure there is a perfectly respectable mythological elaboration on these characteristics, but I think we can all agree its not as epic as Maia's beauty or  Alcyone's leadership. Like her closest sister Asterope (remember the previous book about Star?), Celaeno is also known as less luminous than the other brighter stars of the constellation. This pretty much reflects our CeCe's view of herself in comparison to her other sisters, particularly Star.
Which is probably why CeCe's story is the most exotic of the lot thus far. We've been to Brazil for Maia, Scandinavia for Ally and then to England for Star - but none were quite as culturally fascinating as CeCe's story which takes us way back into the Outback (see what I did there?!) and across the Never Never and other places of less equally cool names. CeCe's ancestry is part Aboriginal and along with it comes the rich influences of the people of the land Australia, ironically one of the few places that she did not want to visit as a traveler. True to her spontaneous nature, the book takes us on a journey that starts in Thailand after she dejectedly leaves Star in England to find a life of her own and its here that she meets the mysterious Ace. Thereafter off we go to Australia where she finally understands the clue that Pa Salt left her and more importantly, herself.
This author truly has a gift for story telling and her research must take her all over the world to truly assimilate different cultures into each characters past - tough work I'm sure..
We await Tiggy's story coming in autumn 2018 with bated breath.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

Sunday, 5 November 2017

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The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

An enticingly fat book (nerd alert), you know you're about to read something epic when the book in question has inspired not only a TV series, but also a video game. Written in the 1970's, to add to its illustrious accomplishments this book has been on various best seller lists for long stretches of time.
The writing itself reminded me of traditional male story writing - Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan etc, though there is no sign of sci-fi or fantasy in this book. Part of the fiction genre, its the first installment of the Kingsbridge trilogy that narrates the building of a cathedral superimposed over the trials and tribulations in the lifetimes of several protagonists - Prior Philip; Aliena; Ellen and Jack; Tom Builder and the despicable William Hamleigh.
The central topic of the book is the building of the cathedral at the Kingsbridge Priory and the lives of many characters are indirectly impacted by its construction. I would imagine that Follett must have researched the architectural trends of that time (12th century) in great depth as the most poetic descriptions in the book are about the architecture of various buildings and most centrally, the cathedral itself.
This book deepened the dark rings around my eyes as I could not put it down, its reputation as one of Britains great reads well worth the honour. Its succeeded by World Without End, and most recently, A Column of Fire.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

The Pillars of the Earth - US

Sunday, 15 October 2017

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The Muse - Jessie Burton

Believable characters - that is one of the qualities that a great book has. Our protagonist here in The Muse almost makes me believe that I read her narrations in an accent apt to her Trinidad homeland. Odelle Bastien is a bright writer born in Trinidad who comes to London like many others in the 1960's to search for the dream. Her dream? To be a published writer. Instead she finds herself working in a shoe store for five years, struggling to gain an opportunity that is not biased by her skin tone. As fate would have it, she gets admin job at the Skelton Institute via the incredibly enigmatic Marjorie Quick. The book lightly touches on the racial challenges that Odelle deals with at that time, but more as to accentuate her and Quick as contrasting characters than for any other reason. 
Spiked with art related history in 1930's, this one may appeal to the fans of Picasso, having much of the books' story line set in the time of his popularity and the place of his birth - beautiful Malaga, on the Andalusian coast of Spain. 
I was genuinely surprised - not an easy feat! -  at the plot twist at the end. Author of the Miniaturist, Jessie Burton spell bounds with a fast developing plot and a refreshingly unconventional protagonist.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

Friday, 15 September 2017

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Jessica Sepel - The Healthy Life

Just about exiting the 2-month post pregnancy crazy period, if ever there was a book that would make me run out in wild dash (well, almost!) to buy chia seeds, its this one. Compiled underneath a venerably wholesome looking cover with the extremely healthy looking Ms. Sepel, I opened the book to read with much skepticism. After all, are we not bombarded enough with trendy ways of eating and breathing and seeing and weeing etc?
Despite my doubts, I warmed to the read, particularly the easy recipes (no comments on the higher priced ingredients but for goodness sake it pays to be healthy?!) some of which I've already attempted to try - cue her mum Nicky's roast chicken and those tasty muesli bars . Espousing the merits of a cleaner and more health-conscious way of living and eating, Ms Sepel's written creed aims to take you on a holistic journey that doesn't end with a goal weight or a certain waist circumference, this is a lifestyle choice and eschews food excesses and any type of mental or physical toxicity that impacts overall wellness and mindfulness.
I'm particularly partial to the encouragement of giving the exercise a skip if it means that you are more in need of rest than activity. Guess that means I'm gona try to sneak in a cat nap..Looking forward to getting stuck into Living the Healthy Life
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

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The Shadow Sister - Lucinda Riley

I await each installment of the Seven Sister series with delicious anticipation, savouring the pleasant surprise each time that each book has been thicker than the last. That's because I know that every volume will be richly decorated by a bygone era's accurately depicted historical background set within a fictional tale for my - and of course, your - delight.
The Shadow Sister is the heritage tale of Star, the third of the D'Apliese sisters and the most (seemingly) introverted and enigmatic of them all. Named after Asterope in the constellation, her whole life Star had been the quiet side-kick you may call it, to the fourth sister, Cece who is as boisterous and spontaneous as she is reserved and measured.
Finally looking into the clues about her heritage left by Pa Salt, Star's journey of discovery leads her to make unlikely friends, and through them is taken back a hundred years via the diaries left by her ancestors to understand where she came from. New friendships and employment also begin to challenge the comfortable and immovable bond with Cece.
Romantic, delectably rich in historical imagery and littered with flowery English characters, as usual I find myself awaiting the next installment of  of the series - Cece's journey in the Pearl Sister - with much anticipation.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan