Review #19: One Day in December

One Day in December by Josie Silver

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Publication date: 16 October 2018

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

One day in December, as Laurie is on the bus home, she spots a young man sat at the bus stop. Their eyes meet and she is instantly convinced that this is the man of her dreams. Except that she will never see him again, or at least not until a year later when her best friend Sarah introduces Jack, her new boyfriend, to her. Laurie recognises him straight away but he seems to have forgotten all about that day at the bus stop. One Day in December is a tale of love, friendship and heartbreak. It spans over a few years and we follow Laurie and Jack as they try to build a friendship and fall in love with different people.

This is your typical romantic comedy book and if that’s one of your preferred genres then you will definitely love this one. To be honest, after trying to make sense of The Clockmaker’s Daughter (and failing miserably) this book came as a breath of fresh air since it is so easy to follow.

It was en enjoyable read and I did like the fact that it spans over a few years, which very few books do, as we can see the characters lives evolve and their interests and emotions change as they grow older. It reminded me of Romeo and Juliet‘s star-crossed lovers story, as Laurie and Jack seem to always fall out of sync. But since it’s a modern day romance, it’s not quite as dramatic as Shakespeare. I’m sure a lot of people will be able to relate to the characters in one way or another. Who has never fallen in love with someone they couldn’t have, ha?

The characters are very lovable, especially Laurie and Sarah, but none of them are picture perfect, they all have their flaws and shortcomings which make them all the more relatable.

However, while it was an enjoyable read, I did feel like there was something missing (as I usually do when reading romances, which is hardly ever). It’s nothing to do with the story itself, it is well-written and complete, but I just couldn’t help but get bored after a while and I’ll be happy to move onto something a bit more complex for my next read. Nothing wrong with this book, I just have high expectations as a reader which romance novels never quite satisfy.

Review #18: The Clockmaker’s Daughter

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

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Published on 20th September 2018

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

At work, Elodie Winslow stumbles upon a mysterious satchel containing a notebook and a photo from the 19th century. As an archivist, it is Elodie’s job to unravel where the satchel came from, who the notebook belonged to and who is the young woman on the picture. In addition to Elodie’s research, we hear from a young woman’s spirit (the mysterious woman in the photograph whose real name no one remembers) as she sheds light on her past life as a painter’s muse.

Ok, this is going to be a first on this blog (and it hasn’t happened many times before in my life) but I couldn’t finish this book. I didn’t even get halfway through and I had to stop. It’s a complex book, told from different characters’ perspectives and unlike the last few good books that I’ve read, I couldn’t follow this story. The characters are all very similar and I lost track of who was talking and when, it even took me a while to figure out that one of the narrators is the mysterious woman’s spirit reminiscing about her past; I thought we had jumped timelines, but no.

I can’t quite figure out what it is about this book that made me give up. God knows I like a complex book but this one is just confusing. It’s not badly written at all and I’m sure the author has put a lot of work into it, but it didn’t hook me in at all. I had a little sneak on Goodreads and was pleased to see that a few people felt the same as me. I’m usually the kind of person that will force herself to see a book through to the end, but someone on Goodreads said something along the lines of ‘Life’s too short to waste on a book you’re not enjoying’ and that resonated with me.

I’ve never read anything else by Kate Morton so I can’t judge the rest of her work, but I would definitely give this one a miss.

*Book spotlight*: The Dream Dancer by Leslie Hachtel

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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.

Buy now!
Purchase now on Amazon for Kindle

Also available at these retailers:

for other retailers not listed contact the author at her website:

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.