vendredi 31 octobre 2014

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn't look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

Always on the lookout for a good horror novel, especially post apocalyptic ones, I came across Bird Box on a blog I regularly check for new releases. The blurb presented a world gone silent, with the people forced to lock themselves away and wear blindfolds outside. Something is out there, something that will make you crazy if you look at it. Added to that the characters of a mother and her children forced to risk everything to leave the safety of their house and it seemed as though Bird Box would be right up my alley.

Although I did enjoy it, Bird Box wasn’t as good as I had hoped. While the tension is palpable as the story progresses, especially in the sections in the novel ‘present’ as Malorie and her two children take a boat on the river to reach the safety of a commune that may or may not exist, the unclear and diffuse nature of the threat acted against that tension rather than for it. Malorie herself was not a particularly pleasant character in these ‘present’ sections and her reactions to the children left me more irritated than anything else. Still, the book could have been saved by a strong ending, but unfortunately the conclusion wrapped things up much too neatly, with very little resolution of what exactly is going on outside. Still, the book had a definite creep factor that kept me reading and the ‘past’ sections painted a clear picture of a world past the brink of disaster.
I gave Bird Box 3 stars.

jeudi 30 octobre 2014

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

I first encountered Jojo Moyes last year when I read Me Before You, the story of a paralysed man and the unlikely young woman who becomes his assistant. A touching, heart-breaking love story, Me Before You placed Moyes firmly on my To Read radar so when One Plus One was released this year I included it on my TBR. This new book, about a dysfunctional family and the unlikely hero who must get them to a Math Olympiad in Scotland, blew me away even more than Me Before You did.

Moyes is great at creating character that you will care about and enjoy spending time with. It is one of those books that you will not want to put down, I found myself desperate to get to the end just to find out how things would turn out for Jess, Ed, Tanzie and Nicky, especially once I reached the last third of the book. At turns heart-breaking and heart-warming, dealing with both the darkest and brightest of human nature, One Plus One is much more than just a simple love story, though it does do that very well indeed. Quintessentially British, One Plus One confirmed Moyes for me as a great writer, one to watch and to enjoy whenever she releases a new book.
I gave One Plus One 5 stars.

mercredi 29 octobre 2014

Celestial Revolutionary by John Freely

In the spring of 1500, at the apex of the Renaissance, a papal secretary to the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, wrote that "All the world is in Rome." Though no one knew it at the time, this included a young scholar by the name of Nicolaus Copernicus who would one day change the world. One of the greatest polymaths of his or any age - linguist, lawyer, doctor, diplomat, politician, mathematician, scientist, astronomer, artist, cleric - Copernicus gave the world arguably the most important scientific discovery of the modern era: that earth and the planets revolve around the sun and that the earth rotates on its axis once every 24 hours. His heliocentric theory and the discoveries that would follow ushered in the age of modern astronomy, often called the Copernican Age, and change the way we look at the universe forever. This brilliant and controversial belief - born of a fusion of the theories of the great scholars of antiquity and the knowledge of the medieval Islamic world - was immortalised in Copernicus' epic "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium", a book whose very first printed copy was placed into his hands at the moment of his death in 1543.

Here, for the first time, is a biography of Copernicus that not only describes his theories but the life of the man himself and the epic, thrilling times in which he lived.

I probably know as much about Copernicus as the next layman so when I saw this book on Netgalley about his life and work I decided to give it a try. Talk in the blurb of a biography that would delve into the life of the man and the thrilling times in which he lived drew me in. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to that promise. Although the early chapters do provide a nice look at the politics, history and culture surrounding Copernicus and his work, the rest of the book became a study of the various theories the man developed. While I’m sure that someone with more of a basis in science would have been interested in this part, I skim-read it all, not particularly interested in a discussion of the various parts of the theorems that brought Copernicus to his conclusions. Obviously, your mileage may vary depending on your own background and interests, but unfortunately it failed to spark for me. 

I gave Celestial Revolutionary 2 stars.

mardi 28 octobre 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit

This week's theme: Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit OR Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween. I'm not a huge horror reader or watcher, so I decided to go with a bit of a mixture: 5 books, 3 movies and 2 TV series to get in that Halloween spirit!

Top 5 Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit

It by Stephen King

Choosing one Stephen King book was too hard, so I picked one novel and one collection. Out of his novels, I chose It because for me it is probably the most horror filled of them - although I prefer The Stand, I feel that It, with its small town setting, secret evil and creepy clown is sure to get you nicely freaked out! 

House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill

A British author, Nevill has written quite a few scary novels but House of Small Shadows, with its dolls, creeped me out the most! 

Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Although there are some who - with good reason - look on McCammon as a Stephen King wannabe, he is a great author who has some amazing books. Swan Song is his take on the post apocalyptic world, but where King took us into a world devastated by a virus, McCammon uses nuclear war. Tapping into a very real fear of the time (Swan Song came out in '87) could have dated this novel but instead it creates a very particular ambiance that serves the story well.

Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden

Golden wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie-ins before creating his own vampire saga. After a few books in that series, he wrote a handful of stand alones, of which Wildwood Road is probably the creepiest. A haunted house story, possession and child ghosts combine to create lots and lots of chills! 

Night Shift by Stephen King

Although Night Shift isn't my favourite of King's short story collections - I preferred the stories in Skeleton Crew - the stories in Night Shift, from earlier in his career, are definitely scarier. From the giant rats in Graveyard Shift to the terrifying kids of Children of the Corn, the stories here are guaranteed to keep you awake until Halloween is far behind you! 

Top 3 Movies to Get in the Halloween Spirit


This is a French film that was released abroad and is probably the scariest movie I have ever seen. A French couple move to Eastern Europe where their house is invaded by unknown assailants. According to the film's final scene, this is based on real events, which only serves to make this all the scarier. Great stuff! 

The Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon's deconstruction of every horror movie released in the last 50 years is funny, scary, gory, smart and mind-bending. So many fantastic shots, but the monsters in cages has to be the best to my mind. 

The Shining

I know this one is controversial, but it is spooky as anything and Jack Nicholson is great.  

Top 2 TV Shows to Get in the Halloween Spirit

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful was released this year by Showtime and is also available through Netflix. A kind of horror-based League of Extraordinary Gentleman, the show starts relatively slowly but ramps up to an amazing finale. With some fantastic acting by Eva Green and Timothy Dalton (to name just two of the great actors in this series) it also has some pretty horrific scenes, sure to get your squirming in time for All Hallows Eve!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

No Halloween list would be complete without Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don't think it needs any particular introductions, but the handling of Halloween itself is really nicely done (the actual monsters find it tacky and avoid it like the plague) making for some excellent Halloween episodes. 

So, what will you be reading or watching in preparation for Halloween?
Please share in the comments! :) 

lundi 27 octobre 2014

Et soudain tout change by Gilles Legardinier

Camille et ses amis se connaissent depuis la maternelle. Leur dernière année de lycée les a enfin tous réunis dans la même classe. A quelques mois du bac, en compagnie de sa meilleure amie, Léa, d'Axel, Léo, et toute sa petite bande, la jeune fille découvre joyeusement la vie. Tous se demandent quel chemin ils vont prendre. Ils ignorent encore que d'ici l'été, le destin va leur en faire vivre plus que dans toute une vie.

Du meilleur au pire, avec l'énergie de leur âge et leurs espoirs, entre convictions et doutes, entre illusions et réalité, ils vont expérimenter, échanger et affronter. Leur histoire est la nôtre. Bienvenue dans ce que nous partageons de plus beau et qui ne meurt jamais...

In their last year of high school, with the baccalaureat waiting at the end, everything seems to be smiling for Camille, Lea, Axel and their friends. The future is unfolding before them, full of hope and promise. But when tragedy strikes one of them, the group of friends will discover all that life can throw at you and that in a single moment everything can change.

A French writer who started out writing thrillers, in recent years Gilles Legardinier has branched out into writing books about life, books that combine comedy with tragedy, exploring things that speak to all of us and make us what we are: human. In Et soudain tout change... Legardinier has outdone himself, writing a coming-of-age tale that will have you crying and laughing every time you turn the page. Legardinier is one of the best writers I have ever read – and if you know my dislike of reading in French (blame it on my schooling here in France!) you will realise what a compliment that is. His way of getting in to the heads of his characters (whether they be a thirty-something woman, a man in his sixties or a teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood) is nothing short of amazing. I have loved all of his books, but I know that this one will stay with me. If you are lucky enough to be able to read in French, pick it up. Now! You won't regret it. 
I gave Et soudain tout change... 5 stars.

dimanche 26 octobre 2014

New on the Library Shelves 26 10 14

AKA Showcase Sunday

A new segment here, participating in the Showcase Sunday meme over at Books, Biscuits & Tea.

A nice haul for review this week, from both Netgalley and Edelweiss. Cool to get the new Patricia Cornwell, I haven't read many of hers but the ones I have I have enjoyed. Path of Needles is also one I'm looking forward to - Alison Littlewood's horror is always nicely chilling! In terms of books purchased, I have been anticipating Cat Winters' The Cure for Dreaming for a while.

For review:
Children of the Canyon by David Kukoff (literary fiction from Netgalley)
Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell (crime & thriller from Edelweiss)
Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner (historical fiction from Edelweiss)
The Mouth of the Crocodile by Michael Pearce (historical crime from Netgalley)
Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe by Kathy Lynn Emerson (historical crime from Netgalley)
Red Notice by Bill Browder (non-fiction from Netgalley)
Cane and Abe by James Grippando (crime & thriller from Edelweiss)
When The Dead Awaken by Steffen Jacobsen (crime & thriller from Edelweiss)
Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood (horror from Edelweiss)
Ostland by David Thomas (historical mystery from Edelweiss)
John the Pupil by David Flusfeder (historical from Edelweiss)
Will Starling by Ian Weir (historical from Edelweiss)
The Last Days of Video by Jeremy Hawkins (literary comedy from Edelweiss)
The Strange Death of Sullivan Chance by Thierry Maugenest (literary crime from Edelweiss)

Star Wars: Rebel Girl by Brian Wood and Stéphane Créty (graphic novel)
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters (fantasy)
The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca by Emily Wilson (biography)
The Golden City by J Kathleen Cheney (fantasy)
The Seat of Magic by J Kathleen Cheney (fantasy)
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (fantasy)
The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas (fantasy)
Beware the Wild by Natalie C Parker (YA horror)
The Archived by Victoria Schwab (fantasy)
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas (literary)
Malice by Keigo Higashino
Gray Mountain by John Grisham

So, what's new on your shelves this week?