*Book spotlight*: The Dream Dancer by Leslie Hachtel

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thedreamdancer
The Dream Dancer

by Leslie Hachtel

Paranormal Romance

 

 

 

Lady Bryce has a gift

She can enter dreams and persuade her will onto others. It has served her well, especially in eliminating unsatisfactory suitors of her father’s choosing. But when she encounters Lord Rowland, she wants him more than anything and decides to visit him in his sleep and make him desire her above all others. But will their love be able to conquer all once Bryce’s secret is revealed?

EXCERPT
Rowland of Ashford leaned against the rough stone wall at the edge of the marketplace as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Stretching out his long legs, he watched the passing of the crowd. He unconsciously ran his fingers through his thick black hair, boredom threatening, until she caught his eye. He leaned forward, his breath caught in his throat. Blood thrummed hot through his veins, turning south to his manhood. The way the sunlight played hide and go seek in the red-gold strands of her hair—he was captivated by her. He took several steps closer and saw her eyes were a brilliant green, like the meadows dressed with morning dew. Her tiny waist and creamy breasts peeking above her bodice begged for his attention. She was obviously well-bred and came from wealth. That would probably mean she was accustomed to getting her own way. Rowland straightened and smiled. Well, so was he. The thought of a bit more challenge than bedding the willing women at court was enticing. There was a thrill in the pursuit. So, perhaps doing good deeds did have rewards and this one would yield more than favors from the king. And who was he to turn his back on a personal recompense? He pushed himself off the support and blocked her path.
“Forgive me, my lady, but I must beg a favor.” He realized he was sweating. Of course, that was ridiculous. He was hardly an untried lad.
Startled, she looked up at him. He saw from her expression she found him appealing. She smiled, appearing unnerved. Her two companions, also well-dressed ladies, stared at him, their mouths dropping open. He cleared his throat, trying to draw his thoughts from his swelling manhood. It would not do to embarrass himself in public.
“My lord? We have not been introduced. What favor dare you ask?” Her voice suited her—lovely and lyrical.
“My name is Rowland and I but plead for a few moments of your gracious company before I must go off on my quest.” He flashed his winning smile.
“Your quest, my lord?” Her emerald eyes sparkled with amusement, and a very becoming pink blush rose to her cheeks. She looked to her friends, who both grinned, obviously enjoying this interlude.
“I must slay a dragon.” He raised his chin and was pleased with the authority in his tone.
She giggled and again turned to the ladies who flanked her left and right. They could not contain their mirth either and both laughed aloud. Then, she directed her gaze back to him. Those green orbs took him to another place. “My lord, there are no such things as dragons.” She spoke as if sharing some great truth with a child.
“Really, my lady. Please do not tell the dragon that, for I fear you will offend him. And his wrath might be terrible.”
She shook her head. Her heavy velvet skirts rustled as she stepped away. “Good luck to you,” she called back over her shoulder, as her brightly dressed ladies closed ranks about her. They put their heads together. He had no doubt he was the object of their discussion.
Had she brushed him away like a bit of lint or dust? Well, he would not just walk away
like a wounded pup. The gauntlet was thrown. Now he truly did have a quest.

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http://www.lesliehachtel.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Leslie Hachtel was born in Ohio, raised in New York and has been a gypsy most of her adult life. Her various jobs, including licensed veterinary technician, caterer, horseback riding instructor for the disabled and advertising media buyer have given her a wealth of experiences. lesliehachtel
However, it has been writing that has consistently been her passion. She sold an episode of a TV show, had a screenplay optioned and has so far produced eleven novels, including eight historical romances and three romantic suspense. Leslie lives in Cordova, Tennessee with a fabulously supportive engineer husband and her writing buddy, Jakita, a terrier.

Review #17: The Corset

The Corset by Laura Purcell

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Publication date: 20 September 2018

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dorothea is a young noble lady who spends most of her days studying phrenology (a study focused on measuring the human skull, that believes that certain areas of the skull have specific functions). She dreams of being able to prove that the shape of someone’s skull can determine whether a person is good or evil. To assist in those studies, she often visits women prisoners who will share their stories with her and agree to have their head measured. That’s where she will meet Ruth Butterham, a young girl of 16 who was imprisoned for murdering her mistress. Ruth insists that she can curse people through sewing and that she had already killed people accidentally before setting on murdering her mistress. By spending time with Ruth, Dorothea will have to figure out whether Ruth truly has supernatural powers or whether she’s making it all up.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the similarities to Atwood’s Alias Grace. In Alias Grace, a doctor visits Grace, a young lady awaiting trial for the murder of her master, and the story is told by Grace so as the book goes on both the doctor and the reader are taken through her memories of the events. The Corset is very similar on this point, as Ruth tells the story from her own point of view and we are taken through her memories too. Both books comprise very dark secrets being revealed. I was a bit put off at first by how similar the book was to Atwood’s (especially since Atwood is one of my all time favourite authors and there is no rivalling her) but then I let myself be transported by the story and I dare say it took me places I didn’t see coming.

I did not anticipate how dark and gruesome the story would get and I have to say that it sent chills down my spine and left me gasping a couple of times. If it wasn’t for this dark turn of events I probably would have gotten bored quite early on, so I believe this was what kept me entertained.

On the whole I would say that it was an enjoyable read. I didn’t feel particularly strongly about it but it was nicely written and entertaining.

I had heard good things about Laura Purcell after her bestseller The Silent Companions came out (which I own but am yet to read) and I also heard people say that The Corset wasn’t quite as good. I try not to let that put me off reading The Corset, as everyone’s tastes are different, but it does make me look forward to reading The Silent Companions.

The Corset is a perfect read for anyone who likes historical fiction, murder mysteries and horrors. I don’t think it classifies as a horror book but it definitely has some gruesome bits to it!

Have you read it? Or did you read The Silent Companions? What did you think?

Autumn Reading List

Hey guys! I thought it was about time I presented to you my reading list for the next three or so months! It’s been a long time in the making and I’ve finally finalised it, so it’s ready to be shared with the world!

As well as a few more books from Netgalley, I’ve been contacted by quite a few authors in the last few weeks so I’ve taken on quite a few books to read. To be honest, my eyes were probably bigger than my belly on this one! But at least, that’s my reading sorted until the New Year!

Without further ado, here what you can expect in the next few months:

The Corset by Laura Purcell

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

One Day in December by Josie Silver

The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters

Sun Shed by Lee Thomas Ward

Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers

Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan

Adventus by Andrew Mowere

The Invisible Investigation by Lionel Touzellier

Someone else’s shoes by Sofia Ellis

Celestia by J.D. Evergreen

Apparent Power by Dacia Arnold

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Are any of these on your own reading list? Let me know which one you’re looking forward to the most!

Review #16: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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Publication date: 18 September 2018

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine you wake up one morning in the middle of a forest, with no recollection of what happened the night before, or even who you are… and when you find your way back to safety in an immense country house called Blackheath, everyone there seems to know you but you have no idea who they are. Imagine that shortly after that, you encounter a mysterious messenger who explains to you that someone is going to die tonight, and that the only way you can escape this place is by solving their murder… what would you do? Run away or start investigating?

Aiden Bishop is trapped in Blackheath where, inevitably, Evelyn Hardcastle will meet her death each night at 11pm, unless he can solve her murder and break the cycle. To do so, Aiden is given eight days and eight “hosts” (guests to inhabit for one day). If he cannot solve the murder in the time given, his memories will be wiped and the cycle will begin again. But Aiden isn’t the only person trapped in Blackheath. Among the guests are two other persons, just like him, investigating to save their lives. But only one of them can escape…

Blimey, this book was insane! If I had to define it I would say it’s a crossover between Groundhog Day and Agatha Christie or even a mix between Pride and Prejudice and Criminal Minds. Blackheath is a huge estate owned by the Hardcastle family and on the 19th anniversary of their son’s death, the lady of the house decided to throw a party, inviting the very same people that were present 19 years ago when her son died. It reminded me of Agatha Christie in the way that the action is set in one place and all the characters are the same throughout the book. It’s also set in a time where maids and servants were still a thing hence the Pride and Prejudice vibes. It also reminded me of Groundhog Day because Aiden repeats the same day again and again until solving the murder, and of Criminal Minds because the story gets dark really quickly and Aiden will have to observe the guests’ personalities and habits to help in his investigation.

The story is incredibly complex, there are endless characters, each with their own quirks and background stories and we go through so many clues trying to solve Evelyn’s murder that it is impossible to keep track of them all (but in a good way, like where they stay somewhere in your brain and start to make more sense as the story advances). This is a book that made me guess, page after page, what was going on as it took me through Aiden’s investigation and I tried to decipher the clues. I had a few different theories at some point, but the book outsmarted me every time and this is my favourite kind of book, where it makes me think really hard until I eventually have to give up and admit that the only way I’ll make sense of it is to just read on.

It’s a pretty long book (over 500 pages) and reading it in a week was a challenge but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The story is so complex that it needs the pages to unfold itself, and every single chapter is a cliffhanger. Once again, I am very surprised that this is a debut novel, as it is astonishingly brilliant. So much work (and post-it notes!) must have gone into it!

The only criticism I have about this is that I could have done with a floorplan of the country house since it is huge and it’s sometimes hard to picture it all in your own mind, but after snooping around on Amazon I realised that the book actually does have a floorplan, it’s only my advanced copy that didn’t, so I guess I can’t even fault it on a single thing.

If you’re into your murder mysteries, do get your hand on it, you won’t be disappointed!

So, what was your favourite book this summer? For me, it’s a toss up between this one and The Psychology of Time Travel that I read the other week.

Review #15: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

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Published on 30 August 2018

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For those of you wondering why I am posting on a Monday rather than my usual Tuesdays, I just happen to be travelling for the next couple of weeks and Mondays will be a bit easier for me to post, but from mid-september I will be back to my old schedule!

So, here I am back again with another non-fiction book! (and if it’s not your style I promise you it is the last one for a good while so make sure to come back next week!)

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and tenured professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also everything that I aspire to be but am too weak-willed to achieve: an incredibly researched individual who practises meditation for two hours every day, is vegan and stays away from social media (I mean, he doesn’t even own a smartphone anymore).

21 Lessons for the 21st Century takes a deep look at the current world and where it’s headed. Whereas in his previous works (namely Sapiens and Homo Deus) Harari mainly focused on the past and future of humankind, this new book is rather geared towards the present. It explores various domains: the advance of technology, the pros and cons of different political regimes, the rises of terrorism and immigration, and even topics such as religions and science-fiction. The extent of his knowledge on all these various topics is mind-blowing and it all makes so much sense when someone takes the time to explain! He is obviously very knowledgeable in matters of history, science and politics, but also social sciences: how humans work both inwardly and with each other.

This book made me feel very clever at times (when I could relate to a topic) or very stupid (when reading about things I don’t know much about) and just generally woke. It’s also made me feel a balance of emotions: from despair (questioning the point of carrying on when the world is headed towards some dark places) to hope and feeling inspired that humans can find their peace and adapt to the changes to come and just try and have an enjoyable ride while they’re here.

It is an essential read for everyone but mainly for the younger generations, the ones facing an uncertain future, at least to act as a forewarning that maybe we should start thinking about the world differently and be ready to adapt to whatever comes. However I will admit that the book is a lot to take in so it might be worth taking your time reading it (and not cramming it into your brain in under a week, like I tend to do) in order to better absorb all of the information. Or just read it a few times.

It is an unconventional read and very far from my comfort zone, even in terms of non-fiction, but as someone who takes interest in the direction of the world and how to make it a better place, I really enjoyed it.

Review #14: Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

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Published on 14th August 2018

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley in exchance for an honest review.

Candace Chen is a young woman who emigrated from China to the USA with her parents when she was six. Many years later, in 2011, as Candace has grown into an adult and settled in a relationship and a job in Bible publishing, a case of Shen fever erupts all over the world. As more and more people get affected by the fever, the world comes to a standstill. But Candace is lucky enough not to have come in contact with the virus and on escaping New York she finds and joins a group of survivors who are planning on rebuilding the world by themselves.

I did like this novel. The writing is simple and delicate and a pleasure to read. It differs from most apocalyptic stories in the way that the world becomes so quiet and calm and deserted as more and more people die. Candace ends up joining this group of survivors because she has nowhere else to go. At the head of the group is Bob, an extraordinarily ordinary man who took it upon himself to lead this group of people and get them to safety. Bob has no business managing the group but somehow, they’ve all accepted him as their default leader. Candace will have to learn to abide by Bob’s rules and live in a collectivity.

Severance is above all a tale of routine and a critique of capitalism. Candace has settled into a routine of going to work, doing the same job day in day out, then going back to her boyfriend’s in the evening to watch a film; sleep and repeat. She has no ambition to pursue her passions and is mainly motivated by money which is why she ends up being the last one to leave her office, long after everyone has either fled the city or died, because she was promised a big sum of money if she could work her contract until the end. The apocalypse that is wiping the world clean is also very routinely. Indeed, when affected, people start doing the same tasks over and over again until they pass out from exhaustion. The fevered are completely non-violent, they just end up doing the same chores mindlessly for days, forgetting to eat and clean themselves. And even when Candace does end up fleeing New York, she still ends up in a routine. The group of survivors she joins repeats the same patterns everyday: driving, camping and looting, day after day.

There is also a slight critique of capitalism in the book. For example, the company that Candace works for get their products manufactured in Asian countries because it is cheaper, and even when people start dying from the fever in China, the company still tries to get the most they can out of the surviving workers. They don’t care about the health issues afflicting the workers so long as they can get the products they need.

The parts of this novel I liked best are where Candace is reminiscing about her childhood in China. I found them to be really vivid and I almost felt like I was being transported there. The parts where Candace ends up being one of the only people left in New York also reminded me of the film I am Legend; especially the way New York becomes a ghost town and you don’t meet anyone for miles apart from the odd fevered person.

Overall, I liked the book. I didn’t think the world of it but I do like the idea behind it, and the simple and poetical style in which it is written. If you like science-fiction, and post-apocalyptic stories, then check this one out.

Review #13: The Psychology of Time Travel

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

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Published on 09 August 2018

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What an incredible piece of literature this was! This book completely blew me away. I cannot believe this is Kate Mascarenhas’ first book! The research that must have gone into it and the mastery with which she handled this highly complex story is insane. I was quite frankly gobsmacked.

The Psychology of Time Travel is set in three different time periods. First is 1967, when four brilliant women scientists secluded themselves in the middle of nowhere working on a time machine… and succeeded, pioneering the world of time travelling. Then comes 2017, time travel is in full swing by that point since it became a huge organisation (called the Conclave) after the pioneers’ discovery. Barbara (one of said pioneers, now in her eighties) receives a mysterious message from one of her former colleagues and has to plunge once again into the world of time travel, a world she had left behind many years ago. Finally, there is 2018. After Odette discovers a body on the first day of her new job at the toy museum, she is both traumatised and intrigued. Flashbacks of the body will not leave her alone for months and she feels that the only way for her to get better is to solve the mystery of this murder, and for this, she will have to enter the Conclave’s world…

This book is nothing like I’ve ever read before. The one thing that makes it stand out compared to other books and films about time travel is that, in this, there is no changing the past. I feel like a lot of stories about time travel revolve around the idea of going back into the past in order to change the future’s course of events. But in this book, the future is fated and there is no altering it. You might think at the time that you are making a decision that will influence the course of your future, but really you’re acting in exactly the way you should be for your future to go on as planned.

In The Psychology of Time Travel, aspiring time travellers have to pass an amount of physical and psychological tests before they can work for the Conclave. Due to this rigorous testing, it has become an elite profession and only a handful of members of society are actually time travellers. But as exciting as the job may sound, it is a difficult one to say the least. As a time traveller, you can discover your whole future: who you will marry, whether you’ll have children, the exact time and cause of your death… and you just have to take it as it is. Relationships between time travellers and civilians become incredibly complex. A person who doesn’t time travel will stay in one time period, going about their life unaware of what’s to come; whereas time travellers will be constantly hopping from one century to the next, knowing everything about the future and sometimes becoming the bearer of bad news. Some time travellers can then feel superior to civilians due to their excessive knowledge of the future and can develop superiority complexes.

The insight that Kate has into time travelling is unbelievable. I’m sure we’ve all fantasised before about how we’d like to go back in time, either to change something or to relive a happy moment. But Kate’s book goes into the technicalities and exposes how detrimental time travel can be. Time travellers lose their sense of self, because they have several selves (their younger and older selves that they sometimes encounter in different time periods); and they also become desensitised to death because to them, death isn’t final. They always have the opportunity to go back in time and visit the person they have lost and so they fail to understand how civilians are affected by someone’s death. Some of them even like to play Angel of Death and give civilians a forewarning.

There are so many characters and timelines to keep track of in this book but somehow it all flows seamlessly and I never felt like I was losing the plot. The writing is so clever that it reminded me of JK Rowling, especially in the way the author leaves tiny clues throughout the book that all come together in the end. It is fair to say this is the best book I’ve read in a long while. I could go on for hours but I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. I will definitely read this book again, just so that I can notice all the subtle little details I may have missed on the first read.

And as if I couldn’t like this book any more, it also features characters from various races, ethnical backgrounds, genders and sexualities, which was a delightful surprise! Yay! Representation for all!

It is hard to define the genre of this book. I’ve seen it described as a mystery & thriller, and fantasy book. However, I reckon anyone could enjoy it. And if you’ve got a particular interest in time travel, do not hesitate!