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After 10 years it's time for a move ...

Not sure if anyone regularly checks out this blog (I know that don't update at regular intervals but it is still active). Now that LJ's moved it's servers to Russia, I'm not comfortable with continuing to post reviews here - especially reviews of books with LGBTQ characters because Russian law is very anti-LGBTQ and I don't want to try logging on one day to find that the whole blog has been deleted.

As a result, I've moved my review blog in its entirety to https://quippe.dreamwidth.org.

I hope that I'll see some of you there. Thank you for those who've commented or shared my reviews and here's to the next 10 years.

Master List of Books 2016

1. Swords And Scoundrels by Julia Knight (STARTED IN 2015).

2. Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor.

3. Front Lines by Michael Grant.

4. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

5. Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty.

6. The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher.

7. Twenty Questions For Gloria by Martyn Bedford.

8. Legends And Liars by Julia Knight.

9. Warlords And Wastrels by Julia Knight.

10. Hour Of The Bees by Lindsay Eagar.

11. Beyond by Graham McNamee.

12. Nancy Parker’s Diary Of A Detective by Julia Lee.

13. The Relic Guild by Edward Cox.

14. Judged by Liz de Jager.

15. Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery.

16. Maladapted by Richard Kurti.

17. Bitter Sixteen by Stefan Mohamed.

18. My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.

19. Disclaimer by Renee Knight.

20. Suffer The Children by Craig DiLouie.

21. Your Brother’s Blood by David Towsey.

22. The Cathedral Of Known Things by Edward Cox.

23. Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan.

24. Kill Shot by Vince Flynn.

25. Sockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad.

26. The Beauty Of Murder by A. K. Benedict.

27. The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland.

28. The Pledge by Kimberly Derting.

29. Silenced by Kristina Ohlsson.

30. Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

31. Seoul Survivors by Naomi Foyle.

32. Time Of Death by Mark Billingham.

33. Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens.

34. 13 Days Of Midnight by Leo Hunt.

35. Natural Causes by James Oswald.

36. Bird by Crystal Chan.

37. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: Live And Let Swim by Mo O’Hara.

38. Burned by Benedict Jacka.

39. Girl Out Of Water by Nat Luurtsema.

40. Hamster Princess – Harriet The Invincible by Ursula Vernon.

41. The Book Of Souls by James Oswald.

42. Poison City by Paul Crilley.

43. Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence.

44. Help! I’m An Alien by Jo Franklin.

45. Mystery & Mayhem edited by Katherine Woodfine.

46. Hell And High Water by Tanya Landman.

47. People by Alan Bennett.

48. Time Travelling With A Hamster by Ross Welford.

49. Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley.

50. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

51. Some Kind Of Peace by Camilla Grebe and Asa Traff.

52. Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick.

53. A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky.

54. Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Lange.

55. The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy.

56. Nothing Short Of Dying by Erik Storey.

57. Hamster Princess – Of Mice And Magic by Ursula Vernon.

58. Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo.

59. Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus.

60. An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

61. A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir.

62. The Book Of Lies by Terri Terry.

63. Sorcerer To The Crown by Zen Cho.

64. My Brother Is A Superhero by David Solomons.

65. V Is For Villain by Peter Moore.

66. Made To Kill by Adam Christopher.

67. Infernal by Mark de Jager.

68. Sparrow Falling by Gaie Sebold.

69. A Tiding Of Magpies by Peter Sutton.

70. Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin.

71. Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan.

72. A Perfect Spy by John le Carre.

73. Born Scared by Kevin Brooks.

74. False Hearts by Laura Lam.

75. Under A Pole Star by Stef Penney.

76. Silence Is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher.

77. Fellside by M. R Carey.

78. Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner.

79. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland.

80. The Seeing by Diana Hendry.

81. The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott.

82. The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon.

83. Cogheart by Peter Bunzl.

84. The Watcher Of Dead Time by Edward Cox.

85. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon.

86. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

87. No Virgin by Anne Cassidy.

88. I Am China by Xiaolu Guo.

89. Shoot The Messenger by Shane Kuhn.

90. Age Of Anger: A History Of The Present by Pankaj Mishra.

91. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.

92. Ragdoll by Daniel Cole.

93. Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon.

94. Mistletoe And Murder by Robin Stevens.

95. Chasing Embers by James Bennett.

96. Gilded Cage by Vic James.

97. The First Rule Of Survival by Paul Mendelson.

98. The Dry by Jane Harper.

99. My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral by Ben Davis.

100. Zebra Crossing by Meg Vandermerwe.

101. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

102. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson.

103. Blade And Bone by Catherine Johnson.

104. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.

105. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

106. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

107. Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott.

108. The Transition by Luke Kennard.

109. The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley.

110. $uperhubs: How The Financial Elite & Their Networks Rule Our World by Sandra Navidi.

111. The Ladybird Book Of The Zombie Apocalypse by J. A. Hazeley and J. P. Morris.

112. March Violets by Philip Kerr.

March Violets by Philip Kerr

The Blurb On The Back:

Bernhard Gunther is 38-years-old, a veteran of the Turkish Front, and an ex-policeman. He’s also a private eye, specialising in missing persons, which means that he’s a very busy man. Because this is Berlin 1936, and people have a nasty habit of disappearing in Hitler’s capital.

A cluster of diamonds sets Bernie off on a new case – diamonds and a couple of bodies. The daughter and son-in-law of Hermann Six, industrialist millionaire and German patriot, have been shot dead in their bed and a priceless necklace stolen from the safe. As Bernie pursues the case through seedy Berlin nightclubs, the building sites for the new autobahns, and even the magnificent Olympic Stadium where Jesse Owens is currently disproving all the fashionable racist theories, he’s led inexorably into the cesspit that is Nazi Germany, travelling the murky paths from the police morgue where missing persons usually end up to, finally, Dachau itself.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Philip Kerr’s debut novel is a crackling historical noir crime thriller (the first in a trilogy that later became a series) that goes to the heart of Nazi Germany and exposes the cynicism and corruption running throughout it. Gunther is a great character – a hard boiled detective in the Philip Marlowe mould – whose disillusionment with the Nazi regime led him to leave the police before he was pushed but whose smart mouth puts him in dangerous situations. I really enjoyed the depiction of 1936 Berlin – Kerr has clearly done his research and there’s a lot of detail about the geography and architecture that adds to the atmosphere – a section set in Dachau is particularly chilling. I also enjoyed the incorporation of real people from history – especially Goerring who managed to be menacing and sinister but also vaguely ridiculous – and the dynamic between Gunther and his ex-colleagues gives the book an edge but also works to propel the plot forward. It’s a shame that the female characters aren’t so well drawn – I had hopes for Inge Lorenz, a journalist forced out by Nazi policy that wants women to be wives and mothers only – but Kerr abruptly breaks her storyline off without warning and she is largely reduced to being a sex object for Gunther (although I am hoping this will be revisited in the next book). The mystery itself twists and turns neatly and with plenty of pace and while there’s plenty of violence (including sexual violence) it fits into the story rather than being gratuitous. All in all I thought this was an entertaining read and will definitely check out the sequel.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
The Blurb On The Back:

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

As in the other books in this series, the large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. The subject of the book will greatly appeal to grown-ups.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

J. A. Hazeley and J. P. Morris have written a brief but illuminating guide on what to expect in a zombie apocalypse written in simple language that even the dimmest of grown-ups should be able to understand. It’s a short book that uses illustrations from previous Ladybird guides to good effect and I found the section on how to deal with looters particularly useful. It’s a very short book but has plenty of laughs and is perfect for those of a certain age nostalgic for the non-fiction of their youth or for those keen to know what a zombie apocalypse may involve.
The Blurb On The Back:

$uperhubs is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how the world’s most powerful titans pull the levers of our global financial system. Sandra Navidi reveals how these “SuperHubs” build their powerful networks and how their decisions impact all our lives

Learn what happens at the exclusive, invitation-only platforms – The World Economic Forum in Davos, the meetings of the International Monetary Fund, think-tank gatherings, and galas. This is the most vivid portrait to date of the global elite: the bank CEOs, fund managers, billionaire financiers, and politicians who, through their interlocking relationships and collective influence are transforming our increasingly fragile financial system and societies.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Sandra Navidi runs her own management consultancy with personal connections that have taken her to some of the most exclusive gatherings of the financial world, providing her with an up-close view of how these networks work. In this book, she purports to reveal how these networks developed and grew their power and how the decisions taken by those networks impact on global finance and the lives of everyday 99% like her readers. Unfortunately what she delivers is a slick but superficial summary of social network and regulatory theory, some anecdotes ripped from other sources about the financial crisis of 2007/2008, precious little analysis of how these networks actually operate or implement discussions, a grudging acknowledgement that the networks are a big part of the problem in social and financial inequality and a total failure to offer any solutions to the same.

$uperhubs: How The Financial Elite & Their Networks Rule Our World will be released in the United Kingdom on 26th January 2016. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley

The Blurb On The Back:

The good enough mother.


Gatlin – a leafy, affluent town: Chelsea tractors and ladies who lunch.

However, all is not as it seems. Drea, a most unnatural mother, struggles to find private school fees for her step-daughter Ava after her boyfriend leaves her for another woman.

Watching the yummy mummies she becomes inspired, hatching a daring and criminal plan … unleashing all hell in the quiet town of Gatlin.

Can Drea survive the fallout and the wrath of the PTA? A satirical black comedy about love, motherhood and the human condition.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Anoushka Beazley’s debut novel is a satirical black comedy with some sharp observations about the wealthy upper classes and a warm relationship between Drea and Ava but it suffers from being over-written in places, Drea is so erratic that it’s difficult to sympathise with her at times, the developing romance is completely unbelievable and there’s a suicide theme that only comes up when needed to move the plot. I really enjoyed the relationship between Drea and Ava, which is warm and fierce and gave a believable motivation for Drea’s somewhat extreme actions but I wished that the same had been true of Drea and her father (who barely features). Drea herself is such an extreme character (veering from extreme depression to incredible aggression) that I found it difficult to relate to her, but Beazley gives her some sharp one-liners and I enjoyed her caustic observations on Gatlin’s yummy mummies and their pretensions. The attraction between Drea and DC Rodman seems to exist solely to serve the plot and never feels earned and I found the ending rather stretched possibility. All that said though, there’s a lot of potential here that promises good things in future books and I would definitely check out Beazley’s next book.

The Transition by Luke Kennard

The Blurb On The Back:

What do you do with a generation who’ve had everything, but still can’t grow up?


Perhaps this is you.

Perhaps you spend more than you earn.

We know.


Perhaps you still live with your parents.

We know.


Perhaps those ignored bills and reminders have become threats and court summons.

We can help.


Welcome to The Transition


While taking part in THE TRANSITION you and your partner will spend six months living under the supervision of your mentors, two successful adults of a slightly older generation. Freed from your financial responsibilities, you will be coached through the key areas of the scheme until you are ready to be reintegrated into adult society.

Employment.

Nutrition.

Responsibility.

Relationship.

Finances.

Self-respect.


At the end of your six months – who knows what discoveries you’ll have made about yourself? The ‘friends’ you no longer need. The talents you’ll have found time to nurture. The business you might have kick-started.

Who knows where you’ll be?


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Luke Kennard’s debut novel is a satire on Millennials but the humour isn’t sharp enough or black enough to hit its targets, the Millennials are unsympathetically portrayed as victims of their own sense of entitlement, the conspiracy elements don’t make a lick of sense, the allusion to a central text made for some pretentiously bad writing and ultimately I just didn’t care about anyone enough to be invested in how their story ended. Karl had potential to be an interesting character – lacking in ambition, self-pitying and self-sabotaging, his personality is in conflict with the programme’s purpose, but I didn’t believe in his devotion to Genevieve (who in is a two-dimensional hot chick with an unexplained mental illness that makes her easy to manipulate) and as a result didn’t care about Stu and Janna’s painfully obvious attempts to split them up. The Transition itself didn’t convince as a cult – mainly because Kennard keeps its motives vague, the use of a central text called The Trapeze seemed there solely to indulge poor writing in the name of mystery and because Kennard relies on the old saw that it controls bad media about itself. The inept resistance is limp and ineffectual (which is mainly the point) but means that there’s no real sense of danger and the writing just isn’t funny. There’s scope for a great novel about Millennials but this smug, self-satisfied limp effort doesn’t work and I would hesitate before reading Kennard’s next book.

THE TRANSITION will be released in the United Kingdom on 26th January 2016. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott

The Blurb On The Back:

This Cinderella doesn’t crave love. She only wants revenge …


Suzume is a shadow weaver. Her illusions allow her to be anyone she wants – a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? A heartbroken girl of noble birth? A drudge scraping by in a great house’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, she is determined to capture the heart of a prince – and use his power to destroy those who murdered her family. Nothing will stop her. Not even love.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Zoë Marriott’s YA fantasy standalone reimagining of Cinderella transforms the fairy tale’s key elements into an intelligent revenge tale set in a quasi-Japanese society that takes in issues of self-harm and although the romance element didn’t quite work for me, the fantasy elements made for an enjoyable read that kept me turning the pages until the end. Marriott does particularly well with depicting Suzume’s emotional journey in the book – I believed in the reasons for her self-harm, her guilt and her suppressed rage and desire for revenge and her relationships with her mother, Terayama, Youta, Otieno and Akira all feed into her character and shape her development. I wished that there had been more depth to the romance with Otieno who is a character with a lot of potential – instead it’s too much of an insta love thing with little real contract to justify the bond – but Akira does make up for that as she certainly has the more interesting backstory and a great twist that I really enjoyed. Also interesting is Suzume’s mother – a flawed woman driven by her own ambition, need and also jealousy and uncertainty – and I wished that Terayama had some of the same depth. The shadow weaving elements are integrated effectively into the story and the world building is solid and interesting. All in all this is a good, page-turning read and I will check out Marriott’s other work.

Thanks to Walker Books for the review copy of this book.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The Blurb On The Back:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year, five-day performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told over and over that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever …


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Stephanie Garber’s debut YA fantasy novel (the first in a duology) has an interesting premise and some creative world building but is ultimately a glib affair with a disturbing message that it’s okay to lie, manipulate and emotionally abuse someone (including showing no respect of physical boundaries) provided it’s ultimately for their own good and there’s True Love at the end. While I could believe in Scarlett and Tella as being abuse victims and have that shape their characters (especially Scarlett’s desire to keep Tella safe), I never got a sense that they actually cared for each other – especially given the final reveal. Scarlett is a passive character, led around by her nose and making bad decision after bad decision. Her romance with Julian is very much an insta-love affair based on him being hot, sexually aggressive and invading her personal space when she asks him not to so the fact that he’s her reward for being put through every kind of hell left a very sour taste. The father is two-dimensional and the count similarly underdrawn. There are some neat ideas in the world-building of Caraval but the dubious sexual politics means that despite the open ending I won’t be reading on.

CARAVAL will be released in the United Kingdom on 26th January 2016. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

The Blurb On The Back:

He’d been drawn here by the grass and the bees and the strange sensation that this was a magical place, that the bones of the world were a little looser here, double-jointed, twisting back on themselves, leaving spaces one could slip into and hide …


Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps – gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza goes missing, the people of Bone Gap aren’t surprised. After all, it isn’t the first time someone’s slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own.

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was ripped from the cornfields by a man whose face he can’t remember. But only Petey Willis, the beekeeper’s fiery daughter, suspects that lurking behind Finn’s fearful shyness is a story worth uncovering.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Laura Ruby’s award-winning standalone YA novel is a beautifully written, moving magical realist fable that touches on Greek mythology and takes in the difficulties of being different with an interesting twist that genuinely surprised me. Finn is a well drawn character and I believed in his relationships with his brother (especially the strain that Roza’s disappearance creates between them) and his best friend Miguel (who’s more interested in trying to get a girlfriend). The romance between Finn and Petey (who has her own insecurities about her appearance, especially as Finn is so attractive) is sweetly drawn and works well with sharp, bittersweet dialogue. However it was Roza who was the real stand out character for me – her experiences with the mysterious kidnapper are genuinely chilling and I enjoyed her backstory of life in Poland (albeit it’s somewhat rose-tinted and romanticised) and experiences in college as they all go to explain her personal strength and the decision she makes at the end. Ruby also does well at creating small town life, the gossip, the strange characters and the way that everyone knows (or suspects they know) everyone else’s business. The slow pace may deter some readers but I think it gives a dreamy quality that adds to the magic and I look forward to Ruby’s next book.

BONE GAP is released in the United Kingdom on 29th December 2016. Thanks to Faber & Faber for the ARC of this book.

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