My Rating: 4 Stars
A sweet novella that teaches us that we need to value people when they’re alive.
Fred Sadler just died of old age in his nursing home. After serving in WW1, Fred returned home struggling to cope with everything he saw. After getting in one of the too many problems, especially with alcohol, he’s placed in Whitby Hospital for the Insane. Feeling like his family doesn’t understand him nor isn’t interested enough to listen, Fred lives the rest of his days feeling lost and alone. So, instead of moving on, however, he hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. When his sister-in-law Viola comes to the place to arrange his funeral, Fred agonises over Viola’s version of his story and for not being able to set the record straight. When his family gathers for the funeral, questions start arising. How much did they truly know about the elder member of the family? Was the Hospital for the Insane the right place for him? How much of Viola’s version of the events is actually true if any?
It’s a beautiful, touching story about a person that didn’t get the chance to say everything he needed to say to find peace. As a reader, you get to see what the family failed to see from the start: a man deeply touched by the war that struggled to rebuild his life for the following years. The story is told mostly from Fred’s point of view, but we do get a few glimpses of what the other members of the family are thinking and feeling.
Fred is the type of character you can’t help but feel for, especially when the story underlines issues that, unfortunately, are still very much an issue. This novella shows the terrible consequences that the war had on young men that left to defend their country and most of them live with scars that never disappeared with time nor treatment. In Fred’s life, his family was completely at loss with how to help him and refused to see Fred as he truly was, a man that struggled to live with what he saw and lived during the war. During does days, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) was barely known and psychology proved to have several limits. Because of that, it wasn’t truly known that war changes a person so much that they would become someone else entirely. Even though Fred’s family didn’t truly know him because their inability to listen, it’s also a fact that they didn’t know how to deal with the situation and what to do to actually help Fred. As the story is based on the life of one of the author’s relatives, it’s safe to say that the novella succeeds in giving Fred a voice, giving him the freedom and the chance to explain his version of events, showing his fear, his confusion, his loneliness and his pain. As you enter his mind and live his story, it’s impossible not to read with a heavy heart. But in the end, Sandy Day leaves us with a message of hope that future generations understand and live better than the previous ones.
Sandy Day has a beautiful style of writing, almost lyrical at times and she’s able to reach to your emotions from the beginning. She makes the chronically-organised events flow perfectly and she makes it easy to follow even with the time-shifts and the constant income of background information. She sets the story in the funeral as to anchor you to the reality and to show that in the end, the most important thing is to have known someone and loved them unconditionally despite all the scars and wounds they carry. We keep the memories and everything that we left unsaid.
A beautiful touching story about a man that, even if he wasn’t recognised as such, was a hero for all the effort and all the lessons he shared both in the novella and in real life.
Thank you Sandy Day for reaching out and sending me a paperback version of your book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
If you’re like me and never cry with books, I will tell you now there’s a first time for everything.
Set in the Age of Heroes, The Song of Achilles re-tells the story of one of the most famous names of the time, Achilles, told in the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend and lover. As a young prince, Patroclus is exiled to the court of King Peleus, where he trains and studies with prince Achilles. Despite being completely different, their friendship grows through the years until it develops into something deeper. The kidnapping of Helen of Sparta sets in motion a series of events that test the lovers in ways they never expect and will change their lives forever.
I must begin by saying I felt a lot, too much and intensely the story of Achilles and Patroclus. If you read or know the outlines of Homer’s Iliad, you will remember that the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Even so, Madeline Miller, while staying true to Homer’s work and the known Greek myths, created a masterpiece that traces perfectly the evolution of a young friendship into a soul-binding romance. She gives depth to the characters, creating the perfect and solid backstory of Patroclus and creating a more human image of the demi-god Achilles.
The style of writing is lyrical and Homer would be proud to read it. Miller writes elegantly yet simply. You flow through the story from beginning to end without missing a single detail. As you read, you have the feeling you hear a harp and a soft voice narrating the novel. The descriptions give colour and detail to Ancient Greece from its palaces to its wars. Miller doesn’t forget the historical details either. They’re perfectly mixed with the fictional story; the typical traits and societal behaviours during the Trajan War period they strengthen it the story and make it more real.
The characters, as I mentioned before, are close to perfection. Achilles, the hero known for his brutal nature and arrogance, is presented in a completely different way. Yes, he’s a spoiled brat, in the beginning, not forgetting his royal heritage and situation, but he grows up to be a man divided between his heart and his duty. Yes, he’s ruthless and hot-headed, but at the time, he’s gentle and it’s clear in his actions that he truly cares. Patroclus is the complete opposite of Achilles. He’s far from being a war machine like it was fully expected at the time, to be someone that cares deeply about others and manages to put others before himself. He thinks with the heart and together with his innocence, he manages to catch the attention of Achilles from the very beginning. On the other hand, his need to end the suffering of the people and to protect them becomes his downfall. His relationship with the demi-god is perfectly developed and the way they grow together both physically and emotionally grows on you from the beginning to the end.
A masterful work of art that will stay in my heart for a long time. This novel book sheds a new light on the famous story of Achilles, and the many layers of the story will surprise you and mark you. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.
My Rating: 5 Stars
After the shocking events that left a grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants to put an end to the reign of Captain Goode. As he used his and Sebastian’s powers to kill everyone at the ball, Goode permanently destroyed their world and any hope for them to return to the life they once had. But revenge comes with a high price. Evelyn will have to choose between putting her friends in danger, run from the city or just give up. When Goode turns the populace against them, can she find a way out without anyone else she cares for? A great sequel to These Ruthless Deeds and a great finale to the trilogy.
After the shocking events of the previous instalment, I was very curious to know what would happen in this amazing world. I loved every chapter and I felt a little depressed when it was over so quickly.
The plot is captivating, addictive and builds up perfectly. The development happens at a fast pace and throughout the story; the feeling of connection with the characters grows. At the same time, the thirst to see justice done and for the villain to pay for his crimes grows to the point it’s impossible to let go of the book. The world is built to the minimal detail without being overly descriptive. The authors Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas continue to surprise me, how much they can bring to life with words and how much colour and depth they give this reality and their characters. The depth of everything is breathtaking.
The reader is taken on a ride on a roller-coaster of emotions as the main characters live through the devastating events at the ball. Sebastien, the main male character, struggles to process what happened and to realise that his powers are responsible for all the death he witnessed. I truly left for him. The way Shanker and Zekas describe his turmoil is heart-breaking and truly brings the character out of the book. He is pushed to the ultimate limit when everything turns against him. Even if the killing wasn’t completely his fault, I felt like his sanity was being tested and I must admit that I feared for it in certain chapters.
Evelyn, the main female lead, turns her pain into anger and aims to catch the person that lead to that moment. She is ready to take him on and while other characters recommend caution, she just wants to face him and has a chance to end it all, to ease her pain and the pain everyone she loves. Her fury, passion, determination are impossible not make a difference in the reader. She is a true heroine with flaws but also with a depth that made me want to know her in person. In addition, the depth the authors describes their thoughts and feelings is admirable and brilliant. I could feel their emotions throughout the novel and almost stand with them through their trials.
Captain Goode is a horrible character that manages to always make narrow escapes. It’s very annoying to read about it. He’s a tyrant with a dangerous gift that he uses intelligently. It makes it really hard to catch up to him or guess his next move. I think he’s a great villain, a good story could never be as good without a bad guy/woman play on the same level or even higher than the good guys. Even so, I kept rutting for Evelyn and her revenge. The authors did a great work in building up the “hatred” for Captain Goove. It definitely added spice and adrenaline to the story. A few new characters are introduced, each one with a unique ability and they all fit into the story, they made the difference. No loose ends, no loose characters. Perfect for me.
A great ending to this amazing fantasy series. I have to get my hands on the paperback versions for sure. I highly recommend this collection to all the fans a different type of fantasy in a steampunk world and a badass female character!
I want to the thank Xpresso Book Tours and the authors for accepting me as part of the book tour of These Vengeful Souls.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An extraordinary brilliant start from Roan Ryan with this debut novel!
Jimmy Dice isn’t the luckiest of individuals as his life is complicated, to say the least. Coming from a loving but troubled family, he loses a leg to a dog attack, three fingers to a gambling match gone wrong, the love of his life to suicide and he lives ignorant to the fact he had a twin brother that died at birth. Even though his life seems like a bottomless pit of unfortunate events, Jimmy grows up to be a man that faces life unafraid and stands up for what he believes in. This is the story of a young man that lives through the worst and uses his experiences to become someone with a good heart, courageous and loyal to a fault.
I completely fell in love with this story. Although the story seems depressive, it’s not, it’s a story of hope, loss and about standing up no matter how many times life knocks you down.
The story takes place in Dublin, Ireland where the reader accompanies the constant changes of the life in the streets of this beautiful but dangerous city. I never had the pleasure of visiting Dublin yet, but I fell in love with it just by reading the descriptions. It was refreshing for me to read a novel that takes place in Europe, especially one with such history and background.
The characters are incredible and for me, they are the best part of this novel. The Ronan Ryan created and explored each character in depth, gave them all unique traits, personalities and thoughts that truly brought this novel to another level. Each character is very easy to understand and relate to and they are important as they all have an influence on the main character’s life and his decisions. Jimmy is definitely my favourite character: he faces life with such a spirit and conviction that it’s impossible not to root for him all the way. Instead of falling into depression, much like his mother, Jimmy learns very early that in life every moment counts and it’s a blessing to actually be able to live it. So he’s gentle, caring but also strong and passionate. He is an inspiration to me and I admire Ryan for creating such a brilliant and memorable character.
Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice is a tale of loss, hope and love in the life of a brave man that tries to find his place in an ever-changing world. Everyone should this novel, it’s a reminder that life has both good and bad phases but learning from them makes us grow and appreciate the small moments with the people we love and not focus so much on material things. It deserves all its 5 stars.
I want to thank the author Ronan Ryan for sending me a paperback edition of his book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book includes everything I enjoy in a story: a good, scary Gothic tale set in Victorian times.
The story starts with Elsie Bainbridge, a young woman that is recovering in the hospital, unable to speak about a number of murders that she’s accused of committing. Since she doesn’t speak a word, she’s advised by one of the doctors to write down her story. Elsie is a recently married and recently widowed young woman that moves to her husband’s old estate, The Bridge, in order to bury him and give birth to her child. Surrounded by her husband’s cousin Sarah and three servants, Elsie begins to realize that in the walls of the old estate dark secrets are whispered in its walls. From strange figures of children and maids painted in wooden boards which seem to watch every move and seem to never stay in their designed place, to some old diaries that described the horrific events that took place in the beginning of the Bainbridge family’s downfall, Elsie slowly begins to transform from a confident and bright young woman to a broken shell governed by nightmares of past events she doesn’t fully understand.
A creepy Gothic horror novel that left me afraid to look at the walls and the paintings of my house for too long. It’s a deeply unsettling story that I will remember for a long time as being one of the books that made me be afraid of the dark for a few nights.
The setting is perfect for me, it hold everything for this novel to be a true horror story. It takes place in 1866 in Victorian England and in an old estate that has more history than its inhabitants realize until it’s too late. The story-line is solid and all the historical facts make this novel memorable in many ways. It’s a psychological horror story that develops perfectly from beginning to end, suspenseful until the very last page. The fact that the author started with the end, the reader is fully aware from the first page that this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
The style of writing is brilliant and it creates this atmosphere of suspense within a complex plot. I’m an admirer of the authors that manage to recreate a Victorian novel with all the phrase structure and vocabulary that truly brings the reader closer to the plot and its characters. The way that Laura Purcell writes builds up the horror throughout gets the reader completely addicted to the story even if deep down they're waiting for something scary to take palce.
The characters are amazing and as mesmerizing as the plot itself. Elsie is a great character and it’s impossible for the reader not to get involved in her story and feel for her as she walks down a dark path without realizing. Her transformation from a strong woman to a depressed, hollow, traumatized, mute, full of scars character is both admirable and scary.
A brilliant, creepy novel that will scare any reader out of hers/his wits. I highly recommend this novel for the fans of the genre and of Victorian fiction.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Bloomsbury, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Since two weeks ago was Banned Books Week, I finally got around to read this classic a second time and to actually review it. This tale of determination, the cruelty of Man and thirst for freedom is a masterpiece but also difficult to read, in my opinion.
When I wrote before that the novel was difficult to read, it’s the same reason why I can’t give it five stars. Even though Jack London only portrayed the reality of the time of the “Gold Rush”, the cruel acts and treatment those dogs suffered made me feel revolted with Man; and emotional for the impact of Man’s negative actions. In some parts, it was a struggle to keep reading. For me, it was more difficult to read it now as an adult than before as a teenager.
“The Call of the Wild,” tells the story of Buck, a St Bernard that is taken from his home to work in the Alaskan wild. It’s a tale of endurance, determination, courage and self-discovery.
It’s an impressive novel that is full of moral lessons and life teachings: the survival of the strongest, the power of the strong over the weak, man against nature, life is hard and unfair sometimes and that even though we’re bonded to the rules imposed by society, there is a craving for freedom. These are only a few points that I singled out, the ones that marked me the most. One of the best qualities of this book is that every element in it contributes to the design of a bigger picture, but it still gives enough freedom to the reader to interpret them as they will. The violence and brutally expressed in the pages is painful and yet an eye opener for the abuse of power that we’re still confronted within society nowadays. The thirst for progress, the need to have more, to be better than anyone else is the drive of a society that will stop at nothing to have what they judge as necessary but at the same time, it idealizes nature.
The story-line is solid but very harsh and brutal; it got a bit hard to read sometimes. Man proves to be the cruellest of all animals and the most greedy of them all. The reader is taken on a journey of feelings of despair, hopelessness and suffering that ends with the small light of hope at the end of the tunnel.
Though it may seem that this is the story of a simple dog, the reader will walk with him in his journey and harsh life where, with will, strength and determination, he ends up becoming the pack leader of a wolf pack in the wilderness of Alaska. Buck is a brilliant main character that shows qualities that we humans tend to value and respect: he is loyal to a fault, courageous and determinate to life even though he doesn’t know if the pain will ever end. He proves throughout the book that, even though he battled against savage events that scarred him, his spirit remained unbroken.
The picture that Jack London created with this novel is that hope remains even in the hardest of times and sooner or later, things will get better. A truly inspiring tale that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant, memorable novel. This is a book that shows the other side of the very debated issue of illegal migration. I’m not usually a fan of books that approach the dark side of society, but this one is a must-read for people to realise that in the end, we’re all human and most of the time illegal immigrants are victims forced to flee their homes due to events beyond their control.
A peaceful night of celebration turns into a bloodbath. During the birthday party of his cousin, Pato, Arbo, Gladys and Marcos sneak away quietly from the house to smoke. Suddenly the sound of multiple gunshots ring through the night and the group returns home only to find their families dead and the shooters still in the house. Forced to run, with nowhere to go and a bounty on their heads, the four teenagers are driven across the desert in hopes of finding sanctuary in American territory.
The storyline is very solid and the details are very nicely described. This truly is the perfect novel that portraits the current issues of society and how quickly the media and the people forget that sometimes illegal immigrants are running from life-threatening situations, in this case, extreme violence. It explores how much a person can endure, how they react in extreme conditions just to have a chance at an unknown future. Steve Schafer managed to capture perfectly the effects of the traumatic experience of these characters and it’s both admirable and heartbreaking. This novel shows that all a person has at some point can be taken away and that nothing should be taken for granted. If the objective of the author was to inspire compassion, understanding and empathy towards the victims of the horrors that lead to illegal immigration, he did a brilliant job. For me, he marked literature with this novel.
The characters are very well-developed and it’s very easy for the reader to connect with them. Each one reacts to events and interprets information different, which gives the reader to understand them and bond with them in different ways. It’s even easier to get entangled in their story, to really feel for their struggles and to root for them in their journey. I felt emotionally connected to them and it was both a pleasure and a struggle for me, to know that even though these are characters, these are the struggles of a lot of desperate people.
The story is quite fast-paced and intense at times but it has its slow moments too; I would say that it’s to give the reader a break and to give some time to adjust to the events that occurred before. There aren’t just moments of sadness or fear; there are also moments of humour and some drama when a line of romance starts to develop between two characters, which softens the story a bit and lightens the mood. One thing is for sure, the plot isn’t predictable at all, and the reader doesn’t know what is just around the corner.
It’s a fast-paced, heartfelt novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. It fully deserves its five stars and people should definitely read it at least once in their lives.
I want to thank the author for reaching out and for giving me access to the digital copy of his book through NetGalley.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A collection of memorable short stories featuring all the Queen of Mystery’s beloved characters: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Parker Pyne. I was very glad to find it on the shelve of my local library ready for the taking.
In this novel the titles present are:
All the stories show the brilliant mind of Agatha Christie and her great plots full of twists and hidden motives. From tales of greed, thirst for money, revenge, jealousy and betrayal, Christie covers all the themes she is famous for and does it in the style that all the fans are familiar with.
The disadvantage of the short stories is the lack of character development and the limited descriptions of the setting, but even so, Christie made it work by going straight to the point and the stories are all very engaging. Being a fan of Hercule Poirot above all the Christie’s characters, my favourite story is The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest, the almost-perfect murder. I will definitely read more about Parker Pyne, he revealed himself to be a mysterious detective with a unique way of thinking that got me intrigued from the beginning.
A short collection that I recommend if you’re looking for a quick Agatha Christie read!
My Rating: 5 Stars
The depth of this long-short story took my breath away for all the right reasons.
KumKum Malhotra, a treat for lovers of women fiction, tells the story of a woman who lives a quiet life in the small town of Nizamudin, New Delhi with her husband and her children. Her world and her mind are turned upside down, when an unfortunate event takes place right before a family dinner, unlocking the doors to a journey into the deepest layer of the self.
The lyrical style of writing, brought together with rich vocabulary and the ability to look in depth into the inner-self make this book a must-read in contemporary literature. The reader is taken down the rabbit hole and it just kept becoming darker and darker with each passing turn as the layers of the identity of the main character are stripped away. The secondary characters give a different contribution to the construction of the plot coming together as pieces of a puzzle to create a bigger picture in the end. It gives depth to the novel and to its characters, making it easier to relate and sympathize with them.
Preti Taneja is able to match the emotions, the fast-paced events and the slow moments with the style of writing and the vocabulary creating an intense and suspenseful atmosphere throughout the story. The ending comes unexpected, leaving the reader wanting to know more, which the author leaves open for interpretation. It leaves a lasting impression on the possible fate of the characters and on the modern issues captured in the novel. The author approaches a number of themes that are still existent in contemporary India: the role of women and what they have to face in their daily lives, the truth about marriage and family life, the complexity of human relations and the clash between the tradition and modernism. In the centre of the story, the reader finds the contrast between liberal and conservative societies and how ‘freedom’ gains different meanings depending on the cultural background. Anya, the tenant that stays in their home for a short time, represents the modern way of thinking: the lack of taboos, free from the boundaries of tradition and the expectations of a community. KumKum is stunned when Anya speaks freely about sex, to which she receives the response: ‘Hey, liven up, Sisterji,’ says Anya with a smile and a shrug. ‘It’s 1993.’. It shows the two different realities like the sides of a coin and the opposition between conservative mentality and liberal openness. Moreover, there is the ability to accept and more about other cultures. Anya shows interest in the culture of the community and takes initiative to participate in common day-to-day tasks, while KomKom and her family create their own opinion based on her behaviour and her conversations. The question that is raised is if western culture is freer than a conservative culture, and if so, what does being free entitle.
This long-short story has the potential to become a longer literary work, however the narrative shouldn’t have the same lasting impact on the reader nor it wouldn’t be just as intense due to its consistency and intensity of events and writing style.
It’s a read that deserves every recommendation.
Preti Taneja is unique in her style and her voice, and I will definitely be on the lookout for her future works.
This review was published on Ofi Press Magazine 54
My Rating: 4 Stars
This is the first time I read a novel by D.L. Coln and I’m glad I did!
After finishing his tasks to become a Master, Glaycol Masters returns home to his family to celebrate. But the celebration doesn’t last very long: the village is attacked by a dragon, killing his family and leaving him without one eye and with severe scars. Living only for revenge, Glaycol vows to kill the responsible for his loss and will stop at nothing to achieve it. As he faces a dangerous journey where trials test his will and both his physical and mental strength, will he be able to average his family or will he die trying?
A great read. The story is fast-paced and the descriptions of the fighting scenes are very straight to the point. The story is written in the third person which gives a broader view of events.
I enjoyed reading the adventures and misadventures of Glaycol Masters. He's complex, full of grieve but also unwavering when it comes to getting what he wants. He’s not hot-headed though; he actually uses his knowledge to pass each obstacle, not just brute strength. The story centres around him and it doesn’t leave much room to get to know the secondary characters better. I enjoyed seeing the relationship between them and Glaycol evolving and how they protect each other no matter what comes their way. I would have enjoyed reading more descriptions of this fantasy world, I think I would have connected more with the novel. Even so, in my opinion, the author did this deliberately in order for the reader to connect completely with this character.
The detail of the mystical creatures and how diverse they are is a plus for me. There are actually creatures I hadn’t heard of before, which is both refreshing and entertaining. The way the author imagined the dragons is brutal: they want to control everything and have no limits to what they will do to achieve what they want. For those who challenge them, the villages are burned to the ground; and as they gain control over others, tyranny takes over.
An enjoyable read that I recommend to the fans of dragon fantasy books!
Thank you D.L Colon for reaching out and sending me a free digital copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.