[Book Review] TROLL by D. B. Thorne 

34007676

TITLE: TROLL

AUTHOR: D.B. Thorne

GENRE: Fiction, Thriller/Suspense

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 368

PUBLISHED BY: Corvus Books

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781782395942

PRICE: £12.99

Monsters who live online don’t always stay there…

The Story

Fortune is a man who has found himself so far removed from life with his family that when his daughter goes missing he doesn’t know what to do or how to connect with his estranged wife.
As time passes and the investigation is cut back, he accuses the police of giving up on her, whilst guiltily realising that he himself gave up a longtime ago.

Sophie, the daughter, has a history of depression and attempted suicide on a number of occasions and the longer time passes with no information the easier it seems for people to assume that she has taken her own life. However, we are quickly introduced to various events which give cause to question this; Sophie loses her journalism position at a celebrity gossip magazine after a sting goes wrong and she is accused of stalking and threatening the mark, a celebrity with a dubious taste for young girls. Her homelife suffers as her landlord eventually evicts her after anonymous complaints of noise & antisocial behaviour are heaped against her. Distanced from the few friends she has, A Sophie finds herself alone and unable to get anyone to believe her assertions that she isn’t guilty. The only person who seems to have a vested interest in her is the troll posting vitriolic comments on her blog and it isnt long before we realize that his obnoxious actions have seeped into her offline world too….

Refusing to believe that Sophie has just vanished, Fortune leaves his home and work in Dubai and returns to London in an a attempt to find out what happened to her. As he delves deeper into his daughter’s life (a life he comes to realize he knows very little about) he becomes more and more convinced that all is not as it seems.

The cover gives the impression of a dark and foreboding thriller full of tension.

As I continued reading, I found myself with more questions….
•IS Sophie alive?
If not, what happened to her?

•Was the sheet really a suicide note (i think not) or was it her thoughts regarding the problems she was having with someone trolling her online (and possibly IRL too?)?

•Is Starry Urbano, the unusually named internet troll, someone known to them?

•And is there a connection between both Fortunes’ worklife problems?

First Impressions

When i first started reading, I felt that the tension would continue to gradually build in this thriller; I liked the way the author kept the different story threads unravelling by lifting each in turn, as the chapters alternated between Fortune in the present day and Sophie in the recent past.
I was eager to continue reading to find out how they would all converge.

Thoughts

Without wanting to give too much away (I try to keep my reviewing a spoiler-free zone!) I found TROLL an interesting read. The action and suspense were well-paced and I found the way that different forms of prose such as blog entries and email correspondences were woven into the storytelling gave the whole thing extra interest. It was almost a mixed-media collage of writing and ideas and alluded to layers of secrecy to be uncovered.

With regards to twists, I must admit that I had an inkling of what was coming relatively early on, but this in no way lessened my enjoyment of the story.

Rating & Recommendations

A suspense-filled read, I rate this thriller 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommended reading for lovers of thrilling fiction and fans of Holly Sneddon.

The Author

D.B. Thorne
You can connect with him via Twitter or find out more at davidthornecri.me.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Corvus Books, via ReadersFirst prior to publication.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! I’d love to hear whether you have or would like to read this!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

Advertisements

[Book Review] ‘Twenty-Four Potential Children of Prophecy’ by Emily Martha Sorensen

TITLE: TWENTY-FOUR POTENTIAL CHILDREN OF PROPHECY

AUTHOR: EMILY MARTHA SORENSEN


Henina tends to irritate people. She can’t help it — she’s bad at shutting her mouth. So when a prophecy is made that someone will stop the war, she figures she’s the worst possible choice.

Too bad.

The Fates have their sights set on her, and it will take all her cleverness and quite a lot of offending the king to foist the prophecy off on somebody else instead.

But she can do it. After all, there are a lot of potentials to choose from.


The Author

Emily Martha Sorensen writes young adult, middle grade, and clean new adult fantasy. I must admit, it is a bit of a breath of fresh air to start reading a book and when my young teen niece asks what it’s about; and is subsequently intrigued; I have no qualms at saying she can read it when I’m done! If you’ve hung around here for any length of time, you’ll know I have a soft spot for the gory, the gruesome and the downright grotesque; but sometimes a light, witty and easy to read tale of skullduggery is what’s​ needed!

I was delighted when I recently received an email offering the chance to review an ARC of this, her latest* book, and quickly got stuck in.

[ * Boy! She works fast! In between arranging to review this and reading it (in the space of less than a week!) , Emily has also released her next book Trials of a Teenage Werevulture  ]


The Book

We join the story on Prophecy Day, a monthly event where the King’s personal soothsayer and fortune teller impart what The Fates purportedly have in store for the kingdom in the coming weeks. The marketplace is heaving as whilst the general population usually aren’t too interested, the prophecy last month led to the King throwing silver coins into the crowd and so all are eager to attend just in case there is a repeat performance.

We meet Henina, a mouthy young woman who apprenticed to her father, wants to live her life her way, without the constraints of ‘normal’ married life and children. She is bolshy, and argumentative, and I adore her. 

Then a prophecy is made that changes everything…

“The days of the war are numbered.  The one who will end it now stands within this square.  You will know her by the mark of the star she bears on her hand.  She will rule the kingdom with wisdom and grace.”


No-one seems to care when she argues that it is a scar from a recent burn that she bears rather than a mystical mark, or indeed question the scratches or even drawn on stars that the other potentials show.

All Twenty-Four are escorted to the castle to begin their training whilst the court awaits the revelation of The Fates’ chosen one.

The following days are spent with Henina trying, through a series of ever more outlandish schemes, to thwart any possible plans which The Fates may have for her.

The main characters in Twenty-Four Potential Children of Prophecy are marvelous. Henina especially is wonderfully annoying. She clearly has no ability for internal dialogue and just blurts out whatever she is thinking; making for truly amusing exchanges with those, whom she meets along the way, who then have to suffer her infernal chattering; constant questioning & complaining. The other twenty-three are a varied lot, everyone from the four-year old daughter of peasants; to Anna Khordoa, the haughty niece of the King; and Henina’s uproarious interactions with them all as they vie for position as THE Child of the Prophecy are hilarious.

Each person she meets is quickly dubbed with a (not always flattering!) nickname, thus the King’s haughty neice Anna is known as The Spoilt Brat and his Fortune-Teller becomes The Self-Important Charlatan; whilst Helga , fortune-teller and one of the Potentials, is referred to as The Fortune Teller (or indeed, The Fortune Teller who is not called Helga – it makes sense, I promise!!)

Henina’s attempts to thwart The Fates become more and more outlandish as the story progresses, and each idea seems to backfire as both coincidences and consequences start to pile up.

  • Who is the real Child of the Prophecy?
  • Will Henina escape The Fates?
  • Will she find her Grace?
  • Will they stop the 50 year war?

You’ll need to read the book to find out!!


Another amusing touch is the way the chapter titles (& contents!) relate to the chapter number:

Chapter 3: Three Silver Coins That Smell Like Feet      

Chapter 7: Seven Influential People I’ve Offended Today   

Chapter 10: Ten Impossible Things for Breakfast 

Chapter 13: Thirteen Griddle Cakes and a Greedy Sister  

Chapter 16: Sixteen Possible Traitors, and One Maybe

…. and so on.


Rating and Recommendations

I wholeheartedly rate this witty read with 5 out of 5 stars and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone, aged 10-100, who enjoys a fantasy novel with a historical slant and a large dose of giggles.This book is a perfect melding somewhere between classic Greco-Roman tragi-comedy and laugh-outloud modern sitcom. It really is an extremely wittily & cleverly woven tale. I can’t recommend it highly enough; and I cannot wait for the release of the sequel, Fifty-Three Assassins with a Head-Cold .


For more information on Emily and her work, visit EmilyMarthaSorensen.com , where you’ll find links to her books, giveaways and the opportunity to join her mailing list (and receive a copy of Six Shiny Silver Coins and the Ridiculous Ruckus They Caused a free short story which is the prequel to Twenty-Four Potential Children of Prophecy.)


Disclosure

I received an e-book copy of this book, direct from the author and free of charge, in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

[Book Review] THE WEIGHT OF HIM by Ethel Rohan

TITLE: THE WEIGHT OF HIM

AUTHOR: Ethel Rohan

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 352

PUBLISHED BY: Atlantic Books

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781786491909

PRICE: £12.99

How do you carry on, when you lose someone you love?

The Story

Already struggling with his health, weight and personal relationships; Big Billy Brennan finds himself unable to cope when his family suffer a great tragedy.

Michael, their eldest son; a well-liked and seemingly confident teen; commits suicide.

Whilst wife & mother Tricia thinks that trying to return some semblance of normality to family life is the way forward, Billy sees it as an impetus to improve his life and that of those around him. 

Inspired by their youngest kids’ sponsored walkathon, Billy decides to get fit whilst simultaneously raising both funds and awareness for suicide prevention charities.

He embarks on a weightloss and exercise programme that very quickly takes over his life. Weighing in at over 400 lbs, he decides he wants to lose half; the only problem is, he is so morbidly obese and unfit that even walking to the garden gate is a struggle!

Although he has a few moments of weakness, he gradually garners the support of colleagues, reporters and the local residents; and this spurs him on.

The only problem is, those he feels should be supporting him the loudest; his wife, kids, sister and parents; all, for various reasons of their own, don’t want him to succeed.

‘Conjures all the grief and regret of a family who has suffered an insurmountable loss. Ethel Rohan captures a blend of comedy and tragedy that is entirely true to family, hometown, and our own private struggles. Poignant and inspiring.’ – Eowyn Ivey, international bestselling author of THE SNOW CHILD

First Impressions

The cover is intriguing; the illustration seems light-hearted, in direct juxtaposition with the subject material.

Further into the story, there is also an element of who will fill Michael​’s boots on the farm.

The author’s vivid descriptions of Billy’s thoughts & feelings, and his all-consuming desperate need of; and enjoyment from; comfort eating make for uncomfortable reading. 

Each member of the Brennan family is trying to cope with the pain of their loss in the best way they can. I can understand Billy’s need to do something, but Tricia’s wish to try to return their day-to-day to normality (or as normal as it can be) is equally as valid.

However I must admit to feeling an irrational amount of irritation with regards to the responses of the grandparents. At first, it seems they are just old and set in their ways, but as we learn more about Billy’s own childhood, it becomes clear that they have always been particularly cold.




Hopefully Billy finds some peace through his weightloss and improved wellbeing endeavours and perhaps as he feels better both about and within himself, so too will the rest of the family. 

Thoughts

The author writes about the family’s feelings of loss, grief and uncertainty in a thoughtful manner and whilst saddening in places, i can imagine that reading it at or after a time of loss may prove a useful aid to processing the mixed emotions felt.

On a personal note, I know one of our family stories that always encites giggles is from around the time of my father passing away. Anyone looking from outside would probably find it somewhat crass but the reality was (and still is) that this particular moment of mild hysteria kept us going.  

Rating & Recommendations

A touching story, I rate this bittersweet and uplifting tale 4 out of 5 stars.

The author deals with highly emotive subjects such as suicide, addiction, grief and loss in a sensitive manner; whilst introducing just the right amount of humour.

The Author

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland; Ethel Rohan now lives and works in San Francisco.

She is the author of two short story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through The Bone. Her work has also been featured in publications such as The New York Times, PEN America and The Rumpus; as well as reviewing for the New York Journal of Books among others. 

You can connect with her via Twitter or find out more at EthelRohan.com.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Atlantic Books, via ReadersFirst  publication.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! I’d love to hear whether you have or would like to read this!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

[Book Review] ‘Love in Row 27’ by Eithne Shortall

TITLE: LOVE IN ROW 27

AUTHOR: Eithne Shortall

GENRE: Romance

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 352

PUBLISHED BY: Corvus

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781786492036

PRICE: £7.99


The Story

Heartbroken and home from Berlin after the breakdown of a 2 year romance, Cora finds herself working the check-in desk at Heathrow where a serendipitous policy change regarding a pause on self-service means she finds herself in the position to play Cupid (indeed, this becomes the name her flight attendant friend Nancy affectionately calls her). 

Cora and Nancy have a system where suitable single candidates for love are sat together in row 27. Cora gets proceedings started by a bit of surreptitious Facebook research to choose the best matches, then Nancy oils the wheels with coffee and an encouragement to chat. 

As the book progresses, we learn more about Cora’s failed romance and her mother’s ailing health. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Sheila is now living in a research clinic and as she was (as an ex-employee) instrumental in her daughter getting the Airline job, Cora finds herself torn with the idea of moving on elsewhere because leaving the airport also means leaving behind all the stories and memories to be shared about her mum; that soon Sheila will be unable to remember. 

Cora becomes obsessed with her matchmaking, to the detriment of her friendships, and her own possible chance at romance; when Nancy attempts a little matchmaking of her own, between Cora and the tall, dark and handsome Charlie from airline security.

A particularly entertaining thread that runs through the book is Cupid’s attempts to find love for frequent high-flyer Ingrid, a Swedish businesswoman; and the only passenger to cotton-on to the matchmaking scheme.

Throughout the story we remeet a few more frequent targets, such as Aiden; a handsome doctor who intrigues & infuriates Cora in equal measure on his weekly return flights to Ireland.

Thoughts

The book cover design is whimsical and fun and whilst i don’t tend to go for chick-lit or romances; i really enjoyed the humourous writing, the witty repartee between Cora & Nancy, and the touching way that the issue of Alzheimer’s is addressed as we learn more about Cora’s mum Sheila’s ailing health. 


Rating & Recommendations

Both witty & touching, I rate this entertaining read 4 out of 5 stars.


I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book and found myself glad I tried a genre I would normally overlook.

I would recommend this book to fans of Marian Keyes, and those who enjoy a romance with plenty of humour.

The Author

Based in Dublin after having previously lived in London, France and America; Eithne Shortall is a former student of journalism at Dublin City University.

She is an arts correspondent for The Sunday Times, and Love In Row 27 is her debut novel.

A self-confessed committed matchmaker from an early age; she enjoys sea swimming, cycling and eating scones; when not concerning herself with other people’s love lives.

You can connect with the lovely Eithne Shortall on Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Corvus, via Readers First, in exchange for an honest review.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Book Review] ‘The Women of the Castle’ by Jessica Shattuck

TITLE: The Women of the Castle
AUTHOR: Jessica Shattuck

GENRE: Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED BY: Bonnier Zaffre

PUBLICATION DATE: 18 May 2017

ISBN: 9781785762710

PRICE: £12.99

The Book

The Women of the Castle tells the tale of three women, and not only how they cope with both the loss, trials & tribulations of war but also how to survive in the aftermath.

The story begins with aristocratic German Marianne von Lingenfels helping host a party at Burg Lingenfels, her aunt-in-laws family seat. The castle has no electricity or running water as it is not inhabited.

It is November 1938, and the Lingenfels and their friends are nervous about Hitler and his Nazis. They know war is coming and the men hatch a plan to assassinate Hitler. Marianne is more interested in politics and literature than ‘ladylike’ pursuits such as sewing or cooking and fashion, and so she is party to these discussions. During the course of the evening, Connie, her childhood friend dubs her The commander of wives and children, entrusting her with a list of those close to all those involved in the plot. At first Marianne feels somewhat belittled by this, but in time she begins to realize that she is serving an important role by locating and assisting the survivors.

Towards the end of the war, Connie’s wife Benita and their son Martin become the first of her flock, followed by the Polish Ania and her sons. These three become The Women of the Castle as they set up home together in what remains of the old family castle.

Repeatedly raped, Benita is a broken shell of her sunny & beautiful former self. The capable Ania has secrets, and together the three women make the best of what little they have.

After the war is over, the women still have both their present and their pasts to deal with, if they have any hope of surviving the future.

Truths are ultimately uncovered, and friendships are changed forever.

For seven years, Jessica Shattuck conducted research specific to the book and research into her personal family history, combining aspects of both to weave an intricate & truthful tale which is observant & believable.

The Women of the Castle is a touching and compelling read.

Thoughts

“In war, they made impossible choices. Now, they must live with them.” Or so reads a tagline on the cover. To my mind, in times & situations such as those, rather than make choices people simply do what they have to in order to survive; very often there IS no other choices. 

The cover image itself is hauntingly atmospheric, and i like the way the women, whilst seemingly so small in comparison to the towering castle (an analogy for ‘the establishment’?), appear strong and solid against the softer muted look of the architecture. 

Ratings and Recommendations

The Women of the Castle is both thoughtprovoking and insightful, and I don’t hesitate to award it a 5 out of 5 stars rating.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction, in particular the World War Two era, and/or Womens’ History; or those who enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See, The Reader and The Light Between Oceans.

The Author

Jessica Shattuck lives in Massachusetts with her husband and 3 children.

You can find out more at jessicashattuck.com or connect with her via  Facebook or Twitter.

A Strange Coincidence

Near the beginning of the book, Marianne travels across the country in an effort to retrieve Martin, the son of her childhood friend Connie and his wife Benita, from the Children’s Home where he had been interred after his father had been executed and whilst his mother was held elsewhere.

He was looked after by the elderly Frau Vortmuller, best described as Matron of the home. He later recalls her fondly as she treated her young charges with kindness.

We are told of the Mutterkreuz, or Mother’s Cross; a pinned badge or medal awarded to German women who had borne & raised at least 4 children in a manner befitting the ideals of the government of the time; which she wears with pride.

Whilst I have previous knowledge of this item, I had never seen one, nor indeed was I absolutely certain what it looked like, as I had up until now only read or heard descriptions of these blue and white crosses with a gold star.
Imagine my surprise when, the very next morning after reading this passage, I stumbled upon one whilst browsing the upcoming lots in our local auction house.

It was a somewhat chilling discovery.

 

Do you enjoy historical fiction? I especially enjoy works (such as this) where you get the impression the author is knowledgeable about the time period they have set their writing in.  

Do you have a particular time period you favour when it comes to historical fiction?

Any recommendations?

As always, thanks for reading!

Hugs, Crafty xxx

 

 

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book; from the publisher, via Readers First; in exchange for an honest review.

[Book Review] ADVENTURE CATS by Laura J. Moss

Title: ADVENTURE CATS: Living Nine Lives To The Fullest

Author: Laura J. Moss

Published by: Workman Publishing Company

Publication Date: 16 May 2017

Genre: Non-Fiction, Outdoors & Nature, Animals, Hobbies

Edition: Paperback

ISBN: 9780761193562

Price: $14.95 (USD) 

Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about cats comes the ultimate—and unexpected—guide to taking your cat into the wild. Here are cats walking on a leash. Cats hiking on a leash. Cats tramping through snow. Cats camping. Cats kayaking, canoeing, even surfing—yes, cats who love water.


This beautifully photographed book came about after avid hiker, cat-lover and writer, Laura J Moss scoured the internet looking for tips on taking her beloved cat out into the wilds with her. The internet came up empty and thus AdventureCats.org was born.


Jam-packed with helpful and informative hints and tips on equipment, training and safety; this book will help you decide (via the fun quiz near the beginning) if your cat is likely to take to the great outdoors; and if so, how best to get them ready for adventure!


The jaw-dropping photographs throughout are an absolute pleasure to peruse, whether as a means to whet you & your cats’ appetites for adventure; or just to please the eye as you both snuggle on the sofa.


There are also plenty of inspiring true life stories of real-life adventure cats; such as Vladimir, on course to claim the record for visiting all 59 US national parks; Georgie, the tabby Captain, currently sailing the world; and Jesper, the skiing Norwegian kitty.

Rating and Recommendations


A beautifully illustrated; uplifting and interesting read, 5 out of 5 stars.


Half how-to guide, half inspiring stories, this wittily written and informative book will appeal to cat-lover and adventurers alike.


Disclosure: A free ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Of course, not all cats are up to a life of adventure…

So, do you think your cat would be up for adventure?

Until next time,

Hugs,

Crafty xx






[Book Review] ‘LIKE OTHER GIRLS’ by Claire Hennessy

TITLE: LIKE OTHER GIRLS

AUTHOR: Claire Hennessy

GENRE: YA , Fiction , Personal & Social Issues

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 288

PUBLISHED BY: Hot Key Books

PUBLICATION DATE: May 2017

ISBN: 9781471406348

PRICE: £7.99

What’s the story?

     
Lauren is a young girl who feels she doesn’t fit in. She feels she doesn’t have any ‘real’ friends at the all-girls school she attends (where her mother has recently taken up the post as head teacher). We know she split from her best friend, and details leading up to this are unfurled as the story progresses. She is confused by her sexuality, she has a boyfriend (who she thinks sometimes just uses her for sex) but also feels attracted to girls.
Stresses at school, in her friendships, home relationships, and her lovelife all gradually get too much for her. 
She begins drinking heavily and makes risky choices.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

After splitting up with her boyfriend, she discovers she is pregnant, but feels unable to confide in anyone.
Living in Ireland, she finds it impossible to receive any meaningful help, and so she makes the decision to travel to England to attend an abortion clinic. 

Afterwards, and still trying to come to terms with her experiences, she again finds her life spiralling out of control. She is still drinking, arguing with parents and teachers, and generally feeling alone.

Eventually things come to a head and she is convinced to attend counseling. At first she is reticent and merely goes through the motions of attending but after a while she sees that it can help her.

In time she confides in her mother and her friends (the friendship with her best friend is salvageable) and attempts to take back some control of her life by campaigning for better help for Irish women who find themselves pregnant and in need of intervention.
In the beginning, I didn’t really like the character Lauren, but by halfway I found myself really rooting for her, and found myself worrying & laughing and raging alongside her. I had grown to love and admire her by the end.

What I Thought:

     I must admit that, to begin with, I wasn’t convinced by this book. It seemed a bit too full of teenage angst and modern tropes to be something I would enjoy reading. This isn’t a negative reflection on the book, it’s just that I do not fit the demographic of the target audience (mid to late teens/possibly early twenties).
 HOWEVER, I am so glad I persevered, as as the story unfolds Claire Hennessy deals with difficult subject matter in a sensitive manner.

Rating & Recommendation

Somewhat surprisingly, I find myself rating this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The subjects of teenage pregnancy, abortion (in particular the Irish Eighth Amendment), gender identity, sexuality and alcohol abuse are dealt with in a far more sensitive and thought-provoking manner than my initial assessment of the opening chapters’ would have expected.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA with a social issue twist.
  
Have you read anything lately that you normally wouldn’t or found yourself changing your opinion of a book halfway through? Please share!


Thanks for stopping by,

Hugs,

Crafty xx