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.
My Rating: 4 Stars
You know when people say that you should never judge a book by its cover? Well, this is definitely one of those cases! I must warn you right now that this book is brutal, very very graphic and definitely not for the faint of heart! I had to stop reading it and start with something lighter to be able to go through with it.
Olivia is about to start a new phase in her life: university. After her father drops her off at the campus dorm, Olivia takes a stroll in the university grounds only to be kidnapped by two masked man and thrown in a van. When she is finally able to see, she finds herself in a room that looks like the interior of a doll house; everything is pink: the bed, the walls, the furniture. Olivia quickly realises that there is no room to escape and the daily visits of her abductors show her in the most brutal way that she is at their mercy. In a house where several young women are abused and raped daily, Olivia spends five years confined in that pink room. Will she ever be able to escape?
Dark and disturbing doesn’t even begin to cover this novel. When I was younger I had nightmares about a white van and it still haunts me today. I can assure you that after reading this, I will run for the hills if I actually see one. My heart was beating on my throat for most of the reading and the level of psychological and physical horror of the story is both admirable and scary. Even though this is fiction, I know that these events actually take place around the world, and that’s why for me it was so hard to read. It’s like facing a reality that we just keep in the back of our brains.
The style of writing is great, pulled me completely into the story. There was this constant morbid curiosity to know what was going to happen next even though I knew nothing good was waiting around the corner.
I definitely want to read future novels of John Hunt but I do have hopes for something less dark and traumatic. I recommend this book to fans of hardcore thrillers with very detailed, disturbing descriptions. But again a warning, this is not for the faint of heart.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Black Rose Writing, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
I am a big fan of the dystopian genre. For me it’s both interesting and scary to think of which realities might actually happen and how humans deal with the changes. This is one of the reasons I really enjoyed Aftermath, since it’s more focused on the re-building phase than the actual moment of the apocalypse.
Aftermath takes place in a near-future where the world is broken and people are divided. After the fall of several bombs in the different areas of the US territory, people must adapt to a new environment and fight for a new order in society and government. Through the eyes of seven characters, you will be taken on a journey through human nature and instinct of survival in a world where the person to trust is oneself.
I really got into this novel and after I started I finished it quite quickly. The setting is brutal: it really brings out human nature and what we are willing to do to survive, instincts that only manifest in extreme cases. I think this setting really got to me since I believe it’s very possible to happen in the future, taking in consideration the daily news and ongoing wars.
The style of writing is very good and the story-line is very clear and easy to follow. I could see and feel the dedication and the passion of the author on the novel. I got a bit lost in the beginning while reading the past of the characters but in the end I think it was a very good way of showing not only the story of each character, giving them depth; but also to have a better idea of what happened before the bombings. The organisation of the factions was very cleverly thought and described but at the same time a bit brutal, since the people captured by a fraction have absolutely no choice but to submit and obey.
The characters are all unique in their one way and they all contribute to the story, which proves the good technique of the author when it comes to not leaving loose ends. I didn’t feel like a character was more important than others at all.
The ending was shocking and the cliffhanger was painful to deal with! I want more! I am hoping that the author continues to write in this style and that a second volume is on its way. I recommend this book to fans of dystopian literature that goes more in depth to the characters than the actual apocalypse.
I want to thank the author Joe Reyes for reaching out to me and sending me a free copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4 Stars
This was my first time reading a book from Leigh Russell and consequently the thrilling adventures of Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel. I’ll definitely take a look at the previous novels though because this was one amazing and memorable read.
Geraldine is going through hard times. When she finally had her feet on the ground, her twin sister Helena enters her life and proves that the relationship between siblings can be very complicated. As if that wasn’t enough, the Detective Inspector has to find the responsible for the murder of a young woman found in a trash bin before he strikes again. Will she be able to manage her professional and personal life without losing her career and her life?
Even though I didn’t read the previous novels, I still got a good grip of the story and the characters, so I can say that it can be read as a stand-alone.
The story-line of the novel is very solid and very well developed. The murder story is very well structured and it builds up very nicely. One of the things I love the most in this type of story is how in the end everything comes together, like a puzzle. It’s very satisfactory!
The combination between the personal life of Geraldine and the murder investigation was the “cherry on the cake”: the two realities give depth to her character and it’s impossible not to sympathise with her, her internal conflicts and the way she tries to deal with her problematic sister. The effort she puts into coordinate everything is both tiring and admirable and it serves as a reminder that members of the criminal justice system have their own problems and sometimes difficult choices to make.
I will definitely be reading more of Leigh Russell and I’m very curious to see what comes next in the life of Geraldine Steel.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher No Exit Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.