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Guest Post: Flynn Berry – Unreliable Narrators

July 26, 2016 in Blog Tour, Guest Post

I’m delighted to welcome Flynn Berry to the blog today.

Under The Harrow Flynn Berry

Flynn’s debut novel, Under The Harrow, is available on Kindle in the UK now from Weidenfeld & Nicolson, with the paperback to follow in the coming months.

Under the Harrow blog tour Twitter graphic

Flynn is visiting four different blogs this week and sharing her favourite unreliable narrators. So, without further ado, welcome Flynn…

My novel, Under the Harrow, is about a woman, Nora, investigating her sister’s murder. As the police inquiry unravels, Nora becomes obsessive and reckless. Some of my favorite books have unreliable narrators, who are duplicitous, volatile, and thrilling.

a bad character

Idha in A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor is restless. She lives in Delhi, which she says is “no place for a woman in the dark unless she has a man and a car or a car and a gun.” She’s twenty years old, and says, “I’ve been stared at a lot, of course; it’s what happens here, it’s what men do.” Idha could stay safely inside, but instead she drives at night past “radial roads and white cupolas shaded by tunnels of trees. Jasmine blossoms blow along the wind, the gulmohar glow like cinders.” She drives “through Lodhi Estate, where the rich and powerful crouch in their mansions, their guards poking guns from their nests at the street.”

In this atmosphere of menace and sexualized violence, Idha meets a man whom the police call “a bad character.” But it’s not only him: “It’s what they’ll say about me too, when they know what I’ve done.” This book is scorching. Whatever Idha had done, I wanted to be on the side of this heedless, brilliant woman.

Thank you so much Flynn! Be sure to check out the rest of Flynn’s blog tour this week. Her next stop is over at Little Bookness Lane  tomorrow. For more information about Flynn visit her website or follow her on Twitter (@flynnberry_).

Review: The High Ground

July 23, 2016 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The High GroundThe High Ground by Melinda Snodgrass
Series: Imperials Saga #1
Published by Titan on 5th July 2016
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Emperor's daughter Mercedes is the first woman ever admitted to the High Ground, the elite training academy of the Solar League's Star Command, and she must graduate if she is to have any hope of taking the throne. Her classmate Tracy has more modest goals--to rise to the rank of captain, and win fame and honor. But a civil war is coming and the political machinations of those who yearn for power threatens the young cadets. In a time of intrigue and alien invasion, they will be tested as they never thought possible.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and in this instance I’m very glad I didn’t. Not that there’s anything wrong with the cover, but had I seen it on the shelves of a bookshop I would have deemed it as being “not my thing”. I’m therefore extremely grateful to the publisher for emailing me about this book, I’d never have discovered it otherwise.

Tracy is the son of a tailor. Unlike the elite, he has earned his scholarship to attend The High Ground, the training academy for The League. His lowly status is looked down upon by his classmates, most of whom are upper class, aristocracy and even royalty.

Mercedes is the Emperor’s eldest daughter. Despite having had several wives, the Emperor has been unable to produce a male heir. So he has defied convention and shocked his subjects by naming Mercedes his heir, the Infanta. Furthermore, Mercedes is to attend the, until now, male academy The High Ground, much to the disgust of the academy and the high society as a whole.

While Tracy battles prejudice against his class, Mercedes battles prejudice against her sex, and so the two end up forming an unlikely friendship.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Set some 600 years in the future, it was interesting to explore Snodgrass’ futuristic world. The level of detail in this book was something I really appreciated – the new world, the society, the classes, the aliens, the technology and the references to life on Earth as we know it, all had me captured.

The High Ground is told from the perspectives of both Tracy and Mercedes. For me, this worked really well and helped to further flesh out the world by showing us life from both ends of the societal spectrum.

Tracy and Mercedes are both very likeable characters, even if they can be frustrating at times. I enjoyed following Tracy’s journey – his discovery of how the other half live. I also really like his relationship with his academy-assigned servant Donnel. I’m looking forward to the development of this relationship in future books.

When I first heard about this book I was very intrigued but the term ‘space opera’ made me a little nervous. I’m so glad I took the leap though and gave this book a go. I found myself swept up in the action, intrigued by the world and absorbed by our central characters. I will admit that there were parts that I didn’t follow on first read. I did have to reread some of the more ‘technical’ paragraphs, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story itself.

I don’t normally go for the “if you liked X then read Y” thing. However, had I not read and loved the Red Rising trilogy, I probably wouldn’t have given this a go. It’s obviously different, but if like me the term ‘space opera’ intimidates you, maybe this will encourage you to pick it up?

All in all, a great read. I genuinely can’t wait to read the next four books in this series.

four-stars

July Fairyloot Unboxing

July 20, 2016 in Bookish Posts, Fairyloot

Last month I wrote a wee post about UK based bookish subscription boxes. I mentioned in that post that I’d ordered my first Fairyloot box, the July edition. So I thought today I’d share the contents with you!

 

Fairylook Unboxing

 

First, a little bit of information about Fairyloot. It’s a monthly subscription service that costs £26 / month plus shipping. If you’re in the UK the shipping is £4.30 and they do ship internationally too. You can sign up for just one month or take out a longer subscription, I like how flexible they are.

Each month has a different theme and each box will include a recently published YA box plus some bookish goodies. By signing up to the newsletter you can be notified of the monthly theme and when the box will go on sale.

I was intrigued by the July theme of Pirates and Power, as well as the teaser that there would be TWO books in the box this month. I decided to treat myself and sign up.

I’m going to put the unboxing in a spoiler section below, in case you are yet to receive your box. However, in summary, I bloomin’ loved the July box! I can’t believe how much was included. Honestly, I’m seriously impressed.

Ok on with the unboxing…

View Spoiler »

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future themes that take my fancy. I’d recommend signing up to the Fairyloot newsletter if you are interested in Fairyloot boxes, that way you won’t miss when future boxes are released (they sell out quickly).

I’m a very happy Fairyloot customer!

Have you subscribed to any of the Fairyloot boxes yet?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Review: All Is Not Forgotten

July 15, 2016 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
Published by Mira on 14th July 2016
Genres: Psychological, thriller
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime. Jenny's wounds have healed. An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack. She is moving on with her life. That was the plan. Except it's not working out. Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can't stop touching. And she's getting worse. Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial. It may be that the only way to uncover what's wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack. And that could destroy as much as it heals

A teenage girl is brutally raped when she attends a house party. She is found in the woods by the house and taken to hospital. It’s here that the decision is made to give her a treatment that will result in her having no memory of the assault.

Almost a year on, the girl is struggling with life. She has no memory of the rape, but her body itself remembers. Furthermore, her attacker has never been found, a fact that her father in particular struggles with.

So the girl, Jenna, begins seeing a psychologist who offers to help her uncover the memories that the treatment has hidden from her.

Our narrator throughout is the psychologist, Alan. Not only does he treat Jenna and her parents, but also an ex Navy SEAL who is trying to uncover his own traumatic memories that were “removed” by the same treatment.

Using the psychologist as the narrator is a brilliant idea. We see his interactions with all of the characters, his feelings towards them and consequently we uncover the story.

Walker definitely sucked me in with Alan. He makes for an interesting narrator. I guess at first his status as a doctor made me trust him and his storytelling, but I slowly realised his role as an “unreliable narrator”. I started the novel liking him well enough, but soon his pompous, self-defined intellectual superiority over others emerged and grated on me. Walker cleverly takes us through a range of emotions with Alan. By the end I truly didn’t know how I felt about him.

It might seem obvious, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t highlight that this is a novel about a rape. It’s graphic and uncomfortable to read at times, and so this isn’t going to be a book for everyone.

I found myself unable to put this book down. Alan’s unreliable narrating style kept me reading. I was fascinated by his relationship with not only his patients, but the other characters in this novel.

The whole concept around a drug / treatment that removes the memories of a trauma was something I found very interesting. The associated physical and psychological impacts, as told through the story, were fascinating. I think it’s important to say too that any technical aspects in this novel were well explained – at least as far as I’m concerned. I’m no doctor!

Basically, I couldn’t stop reading this book. I was drawn in from the outside and I just needed to find out more. The nature of the subject matter lent itself to narration by a psychologist, something that I personally think worked very well. All in all, I think this is book that will stay with me for quite some time.

four-stars

Review: Clear To Lift

July 11, 2016 in Book Reviews, General fiction, Thriller

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Clear To LiftClear To Lift by Anne A. Wilson
on 12th July 2016
Genres: Contemporary, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Author
Goodreads
five-stars

Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Alison Malone has been assigned to a search and rescue team based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, near the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and far from her former elite H-60 squadron. A rule follower by nature, Alison is exasperated and outraged every time she flies with her mission commander, "Boomer" Marks, for whom military procedures are merely a suggestion. Alison is desperate to be transferred out of the boonies, where careers stagnate, and back to her life and fiancé in San Diego.

Alison's defences start to slip when she meets mountain guide Will Cavanaugh during a particularly dicey mission. Will introduces her to a wild, beautiful world of adventure that she has never known before. Stranded on a mountain during a sudden dangerous blizzard, Alison questions every truth she thought she knew about herself. When Will braves the storm to save her life, she must confront the fact that she has been living a lie. But is it too late to change course?

Alison Malone is a 28 year old Navy helicopter pilot. Her most recent posting has seen her stationed in Fallon, Nevada among the Sierra Nevada mountains as part of the Navy’s premier search and rescue squadron, the Longhorns. It’s not a post she desired, it’s more than likely a post that’s going to affect her career progression – the guys here are lax on the rules, and to top it off she’s away from her fiancé, Rich.

Ali’s father abandoned her and her mother when she was just 4 years old. Naturally, this has had a huge impact on her life and she’s forever seeking security, stability – it’s why she joined the Navy. Rich epitomises this security – an excellent job, wealth, a home, it’s exactly what she needs.

Ali and her squadron work closely with the local Search And Rescue (SAR) squad. During the winter months of her placement, she spends time rescuing climbers and hikers trapped by snow and ice in the mountains. The SAR squad specialise in this area, and none are more qualified than Will, the star of the SAR squad who has travelled the world with his talents.

From the moment they meet, Ali can’t keep Will from her thoughts. He is everything that Rich is not – but is that a good thing?

You may remember that I read and loved HOVER by Anne A Wilson last year. So when I heard that Anne was releasing a new book in 2016 I immediately added it to my ‘most anticipated’ list.

Anne A Wilson is herself a former Navy helicopter pilot. This, obviously, means that she can draw upon her own knowledge and experiences in her writing. I love that in reading her books I learn so much. The engineering geek in me loves the more technical aspects of this book.

She draws upon her own emotions too. This is a lady who knows how it feels to hold the lives of others in her hands. She knows what it takes to hold a helicopter at a steady hover just feet from an ice face. All of this comes through in her writing. It’s very ‘real’ and I, for one, love that!

This book is tense, it will keep you reading. From rescue missions to near death experiences, torn emotions to the best glazed doughnuts in the world – you won’t be able to stop reading! You may want some pastries to hand for the Erick Schat’s Bakkery scene though – I guarantee it will make you hungry.

There are some fantastic characters in this novel – I challenge you not to love Jack, or swoon over Will. Oh and Mojo the rescue dog absolutely captured my heart.

This book also weaves in some interesting military issues – what if your rescue mission involves someone you know? Do you always play by the rulebook? The death of a colleague? Homosexuality in the Navy. These are all issues that wind their way through the narrative.

In case you haven’t gathered, I loved this book. Wilson keeps us engaged from the outset. She weaves romance with real, fact-filled action. There’s family drama, gorgeous scene-setting and… oh did I mention the doughnuts?

It’s so much more than a book about a Navy helicopter pilot – SO MUCH MORE. I was so caught up in this story that not only did I let the fire go out, twice, but I banned my husband from speaking to me unless he had something “substantive to say”!!

If anything I loved Clear to Lift even more than Hover, and I genuinely cannot wait to see what Wilson brings us next. My wee emotions are in tatters, but in the best possible way!

five-stars