I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Reunion by Guillaume Musso. I read this book a month or so ago and though it was about time I shared my review. I seem to have a few book reviews laying in the drafts section of my blog awaiting release!
Let me show you what The Reunion is all about…
WELCOME TO A SCHOOL REUNION YOU WON’T FORGET
FRENCH RIVIERA, WINTER 1992 On a freezing night, as her high school campus is engulfed by a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell runs away with Alexis, her philosophy teacher.
No one will ever see them again.
FRENCH RIVIERA, SPRING 2017 Formerly inseparable, Thomas, Maxime and Fanny – Vinca’s best friends – have not spoken in twenty-five years. But when they receive an invitation to their school reunion, they know they must go back one final time.
Because there is a body buried in that school…
…and they’re the ones who put it there.
This is the first time I have read a book by this author. The premise of a school reunion has been turned into a dark and intriguing read. I have never been to a reunion and, while I do get the idea of catching up with old friends, it is not something I would enjoy. Yes, they would be old friends but also they would also be strangers to me.
The main character is Thomas, he is an author who is attending the reunion and while there he meets his own small group that he was friendly with at school. This group all have a secret and it is not the same secret. Gradually as the story unfolds the true depth of the past in unravelled. SOmethings that had been alluded to or guessed are finally unveiled in their true light. There are several things that have happened and, while they are connected they are also separate.
This book moves along at a good pace and flits between different times. I did find it initially confusing as the first couple of chapters where quite quick so I didn’t have time to find my feet with the story. Then the chapters gradually lengthen and I felt more interested in the story. I can’t say I liked any of the characters, they all seem to have a secret and this led to a general feeling of distrust towards them.
The book has a dark and devious feel to it, I would say it is a thriller as such due to the present day things going on. There are lies, secrets and an air of suspense though at times I did find it confusing and found that occasionally my attention was drifting from the story.
As I mentioned this is the first time I have read a book by this author and even though it did not fully have me enthralled and at times I got a bit confused, though I did enjoy it and I would definitely buy another book by this author.
The Reunion is a book that would suit readers who like a dark and twisted thriller story. I would recommend it.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous 🙂 xx
I am absolutely delighted to share my thoughts on Dark Deception by Amanda James. Regulars to my blog will know that I am a big fan of Mandy’s books and they just get better and better.
Let me show you what here latest book is all about…
Who can you trust when the past won’t let you go?
Kerensa and Leo are a happily married young couple who live in Cornwall. Leo works part-time in London as an investment advisor to wealthy businessman, Paul Donaldson. The couple hope to start a family soon and life couldn’t be better.
But Leo has been stealing from Paul and Paul isn’t the sort of man you steal from.
When Leo realises that Paul knows what he’s done, he has no choice but to resort to drastic measures.
Meanwhile, after discovering she is pregnant, Kerensa can’t wait for her husband to return home so she can share her news. But she soon discovers he’s gone missing.
After receiving a threatening phone call from Paul, Kerensa realises how much trouble her family are in.
Just how far is Paul prepared to go to get revenge? And will Kerensa ever be happy or safe again?
Amanda James is also the bestselling author of novels including Another Mother and The Cornish Retribution. Dark Deception is a twisty and suspenseful psychological thriller which will appeal to fans of authors like C.L. Taylor, Claire McGowan and Louise Jensen.
Well, Mandy James! What a devious lady you are! This is a very deceptive book with a very devious story line. You completely reeled me in with this tale and it was such an addictive read!
The synopsis does a great job of letting you know the basics of this story. The author then weaves a fabulous tale of deception, intrigue and mystery. What starts as a basic story about a married couple gradually turns into something far deeper, each chapter seems to add more intrigue and the suspense is slowly and surely ramped up.
I did have a couple of theories as I was reading, I will admit one of those theories turned out to be right. But the journey to whittle my theories down to the right one was fabulous. Even when I proven right there was more to come, more twists and turns than one of our Cornish lanes!
This author lives in Cornwall and to me this is very obvious in the reading of the setting descriptions. The little inlets, bays, cliffs and beaches all have cameo roles. I know the various places mentioned, and for me this adds the extras that I like in books that have a setting in the county I live.
As I mentioned this is a story of intrigue, deception and suspense. These elements give a fabulous psychological thriller feel. As the past is slowly pieced together the threads get more riveting as the depth of deception is realised.
This is such a brilliant read and I think the author has definitely created a fabulous psychological thriller. The story lines are wonderfully interwoven with the characters involved. Even when I thought I had a handle on the story the author deftly sidestepped me and had me avidly turning pages to discover what was going to happen next.
As I have mentioned, I have read a few books by Mandy, and this is my favourite one to date. It has an edgier feel to it and I feel the author has stepped up her writing. I have always really enjoyed her writing style, but this one just has that extra something to it.
A fabulous book and Amanda James is an author that I will automatically read. When I saw this book being offered as an advanced reader copy I requested it without even looking at the synopsis, for me this author is that good! Dark Deception is, as its title suggests, dark and deceptive, and it is a book I would Highly Recommend.
P.S… if you follow Mandy on Facebook you will know of the long awaited blooming of her Agapanthus,poor Aggie was a little shy at all the attention and it did seem to take forever. Why, I hear you ask, am I mentioning flowers? Well, I chuckled when I saw mention of an agapanthus in Dark Deception! A glimpse into an authors daily life! 🙂
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my thoughts on the Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski. My thanks to Emma at damppebbles Blog Tours for my spot on the tour and for arranging my e-copy of this brilliant historical fiction book.
Let me show you what it is all about…
A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.
When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?
The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.
This is the first time I have read anything by this author, but I have seen his books popping up just recently. I am so glad I grabbed a spot on the Blog Tour sign -up for The Bowery Slugger as it is a wonderful historical fiction book that was right up my street.
It is set in 1915 and I arrived to this story as Alex Cohen arrives in America. He and his family settle and Alex finds himself a job, he starts at the bottom and gradually over the next few months he starts to climb the ladder.
This is a belter of a read and if, like me, you read and loved “Gangs of New York, then you are going to love The Bowery Slugger. It is the the story of a young man who finds himself working for the Jewish Mob. This kind of caught me unawares as I tend to think of this being more a world associated with other nationalities. Surprise aside, I found this such an addictive read as I followed Alex’s story.
There is obvious mentions of strong arming, extortion, take overs and the like. I liked how the author didn’t go into full on bloody descriptions, he found just the right balance for me. Along side the gangs is the story of a more personal one Alex and his love life. He has his heart set on a girl who has heard rumours of Alex and his reputation is one that goes before him, there is a mutual attraction, but is it enough.
I do like historical fiction and when I love it when I come across something new or I learn something I didn’t know before. This book gave me loads of new words, they are Yiddish words and I thought there inclusion was a great addition to the story. Using them as part of conversations adds an authenticity to the story, it also keeps various characters voices in the style and speech of the time. It may be a stereotype that I hold in my head, but for me it gives a character life. This is where reading a digital copy came in very handy as I was able to use the dictionary as I read.
The story is a good pace and for me felt just right for the story. Alex seemed to be a character that had the confidence to stroll at his own pace and this pacing matched the story.
There are so many good things about this book that I liked, the characters were great enough for the story and it would have been easy to add too many as the story feels quite big, but the author got the numbers just right. The story line is one that I really enjoyed, in some respect Alex should be a baddie, but I actually liked him a lot. The dialogue felt right and fitted in with the characters and their manners.
If you like historical fiction then I think The Bowery Slugger is one you should definitely buy. A fabulous book and it is also the first in the series with the next book due out spring next year, and I for one cannot wait for next year! I thoroughly enjoyed The Bowery Slugger and would definitely recommend it.
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.
I am delighted to be sharing my review for Hemlock Jones and the Underground Orphans by Justin Carroll. My thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books for arranging my spot on the Blog Tour and also for arranging a copy of this fabulous book. My apologies for being late with this review, I hadn’t realised the Tour dates had changed, but better late than never as they say 🙂
This is the second book in the Hemlock Jones series and I loved it as much as I did the first one. Before I get carried away singing the praises for this author’s Hemlock series, let me show you what it is all about…
When orphans vanish from their beds across Victorian London, twelve-year-old demystifier Hemlock Jones and her companion, Edward, take the case!
This time, the trail will lead them from their Baker Street home, along lost rivers and into the heart of the city, to face exotic enemies and a charming man with dark plans…
Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans is the second of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, the award-winning series of detective adventures for children and adults.
Oh it is so good to be travelling around Victorian London with Hemlock and Eddie, oops sorry Edward! Hemlock and Edward are a fabulous combination. Hemlock is a demystifier, she takes the mystery out of criminal cases that she decides to investigate and Edward is her Associate.
Her latest case is one that involves the disappearance of orphans. She is approached as she had helped on a previous case, though her and Edward did not get the credit they deserved, instead it went to that other famous consultant from Baker Street! Though she did not get the credit, she is recognised as being a help, so she agrees to give her expert help in the search for the missing children.
Now, you know I mentioned how I enjoyed wandering around Victorian London with the duo? Well, this time I was glad that as a reader I can experience things from the pages of a book! I bet Edward would wish to be in my position instead of traipsing and crawling through the rat infested sewers!
This book is fabulous and has mystery, intrigue and uses powers of observation and deduction or should I say demystification! I should mention that it is aimed at a younger audience, but this grown up (depending who you ask!) reader loves it!
It is a story that is accessible and is at a pace that holds the attention, there are quieter moments in it but these are moments are essential to the case or are about the lives of the characters themselves. I think this story is ideal for giving a younger audience a mystery novel that has a feel of the classic Sherlock Holmes but in a more upbeat way, it has action and adventure as well as mishaps and danger. I remember trying to read a Sherlock story when I was younger and I was not old enough to understand it, but if I had access to Hemlock Jones I would have been so happy. I will add that as an adult reader I love the Sherlock Holmes books!
The story itself is good and holds the attention, there are mentions of the yuckier side of London and it also has reference to a poem / folk tale that I think would make for good further reading for the target audience. I love that the main heroes of the story are children and their escapades are in an adult world. They are given a chance to deal with an investigation that is adult sized, but its their belief in their own instincts and observations that lead to solving the case.
This is a fabulous read and I think that the younger audience would absolutely enjoy it. It is the 2nd book in the Hemlock Jones series and I would definitely recommend it.
Justin Carroll is an author who balances his love of comic books and games with a passion for martial arts and musicals.
Ever since he stopped wanting to be a dinosaur, Justin wanted to be a writer. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language from King’s College, London in 2004 and now, when not writing, he fritters away his time on all manner of geeky things.
Shortlisted for several international short story competitions, Justin was a finalist in the 2010 British Fantasy Awards with “Careful What You Wish For” (Wyvern Publishing) and placed in the top twenty of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge twice.
December 2012 saw the birth of Justin Carroll’s first novel: Everything’s Cool – a dark, psychological thriller.
His second novel, Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death, is a Young Adult novel and the first in a series featuring Hemlock Jones, the fiery 12-year-old demystifier whose brain easily equals and surpasses that of the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. “Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death” won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Wishing Shelf Awards.
I am delighted to share my thoughts with you for All Summer With You by Beth Good.
Let me show you what it is about…
There’s no place like home…
Nursing a broken heart, Jennifer Bolitho retreats to Pixie Cottage. Her new landlord – a former soldier turned movie heartthrob – has grounds so large, she’s sure the little house nestled in the woods will bring her solitude.
Alex Delgardo also has reasons to hide away. Seeking refuge after a tragic incident turned his world upside down, he knows that the most important thing now is to care for his ailing family.
But when Jennifer enters their lives, that changes. Because, as they both learn, you can’t heal others until you learn to heal yourself…
When Jennifer moves into the cottage that adjoins the estate of film star Alex Deldgardo, there are certain clauses attached. One is that she should not trespass onto his property. She has no intention of doing so, unfortunately or fortunately a goat has different ideas. Jennifer finds a friend in an elderly lady and feels welcomed. Alex on the other hand is moody, grumpy and quite rude.
The author does such a fabulous job of entwining all things Cornish into this story. From local foods, plants, folklore, language and stories and weaves them wonderfully into the story that unfolds. Jennifer is a story teller and the author uses this character to introduce some well known Cornish stories into her tale.
The main characters of Jennifer and Alex both have histories, Jennifer is using the solitude to write her next book while also trying to come to terms with a break-up. Alex is also recovering, though from something quite different. I liked how the author took an unusual approach with his back story and as I learnt more my initial thoughts on him changed.
The author weaves a thoroughly enjoyable story the inclusion of various Cornish elements was great and very recognisable to me as I have lived in this county for 20 years. Including the language and stories was wonderful and the way they were included added an extra element to the reading. Often descriptions of scenery and food are mentioned in Cornish based books so it was a treat to see some of the extras.
The story flowed along at a really nice pace and had some really good heartwarming and also heartbreaking moments, and also the odd humorous moments as well. There were various elements that complemented each other so well.
This is a story that is a tale of coming to terms with the past and accepting that some things are out of your control. It is a story of life, love and loss and is one that I would definitely recommend.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my thoughts today on The Secret Santa by Trish Harteniaux. My thanks to Rachel at Penguin Random House for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.
THIS YEAR YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE…
When an international pop starlet rolls into town looking to buy the most expensive house on the market, struggling real estate agents and husband and wife duo Claudine and Henry think their terrible luck has finally turned.
The mysterious mansion has hidden secrets, and Claudine and Henry’s survival depends on no one finding out the truth about what really happened there. In a desperate move to secure the sale, Claudine decides to bury the house’s dark past and show it at its best – by inviting the singer to a lavish holiday party hosted inside the majestic mountainside mansion.
But when a murder weapon turns up as part of the party’s game of Secret Santa, Claudine’s carefully curated lie and the lives of all the party goers is threatened as they race to find the killer before they can strike again.
How far will Claudine go to protect her secrets? Is she prepared to kill to make a killing, or will she fall prey herself?
The synopsis does a good job of letting you know a little bit about this murder mystery story. A of seeing a stunning property means a change of location for Henry and Claudine’s staff Christmas do. The party will be moved to the remote property so that it can be shown off at its best for a potential buyer. Part of the party is the Secret Santa, a game of exchanging presents has been something that has increased over the years and everyone tries to out-do each other, however this year one of the gifts has a catch!
This is a murder mystery read that is about revenge for something that was done in the past. The truth is not revealed until far later in the story and it is where all the answers are suddenly revealed.
The story is told in quick chapters from the perspective of different characters, Claudine, Henry and Zara as well as a mystery italicised chapters! I like this style as it gave me a chance to get inside the heads of various people, see their thoughts and some of what they really think.
The story is well paced and definitely kept me guessing, gradually introducing me to everyone involved and also drawing me further into the story. The setting is good though not overwhelming, there are several good mentions about it and it does sound idyllic, isolated, remote and scenic. The focus is more on the people.
This is a murder mystery that has drama and suspense rather than blood and guts. Its not a thriller or police procedural and would suit cosy mystery readers. It is one I would recommend.
The Secret Santa is Trish Harnetiaux’s debut novel. She is a Brooklyn-based playwright whose published works includeTin Cat Shoes, How To Get Into Buildings, and If You Can Get To Buffalo. Follow her on Twitter @TrishHarnetiaux #TheSecretSanta
See what other Book Bloggers think by following the tour…
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my review for Kult by Stefan Malmstrom. My huge thanks to Sarah at Book On The Bright Side Publicity for the invite and for arranging a copy of this fantastic book.
Let me show you what the book is all about…
THE PAST WILL NEVER LET YOU GO…
When a four-year-old girl and her father are found dead in the Swedish city of Karlskrona, the police quickly conclude it was a murder-suicide, a tragedy requiring no further investigation.
But Luke Bergmann, a reformed criminal still haunted by his violent past, believes they are wrong. The dead man, Viktor, was his best friend, and Luke knows he would never commit such a horrific crime.
When more bodies turn up, Luke is certain the same killer has struck again. Alone, he embarks on an investigation which reaches back through decades to his friend’s involvement with a sinister cult and dark secrets are exposed as Luke struggles to keep his own long-buried demons hidden away.
And when Luke finds himself in a killer’s sights, his search for the truth becomes the fight of his life.
Can Luke get justice for Viktor and his daughter and prove his best friend was not a murderer, or will the shadows of the past overwhelm him?
Fans of The Killing, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jo Nesbø and Will Dean will love this dark and gripping début thriller.
There is an Authors Note that I am also going to share with you…
KULT is a crime thriller but it’s based on a true story. The author, Stefan Malmstrom, was in the Church of Scientology in Sweden for a few years in his early twenties (about thirty years ago now), a relatively short time but which had a profound and damaging effect on his life. Part of the story of KULT is told in flashbacks which are accurate representations of both Stefan’s experiences in Scientology in Sweden (including digging for a spaceship – no joke) and the death of Lisa McPherson in the US in 1995. The present-day plot – the hunt for a serial killer – is entirely fictitious. The book is aimed at a general crime readership (Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo fans among others) as well as the many people who read books about Scientology, such as Going Clear by Lawrence Wright and Troublemaker by Leah Remini. You may not know but Silvertail is the only publisher in the UK willing to put out books critical of Scientology – “over the years we’ve had serious legal threats, all of which have been seen off with no problems.” KULT is the first time we’ve done a Scientology novel, and hopefully this aspect makes it a little more interesting than if it were pure fiction.
The synopsis and the authors note were the things that really made me stop and take a serious look at this book. It’s not often I read the synopsis immediately prior to reading for a book, I usually wait until I have finished it. but this item, something caught my eye and I read it and the authors note prior to reading the book and I think it gave such an extra element to the reading experience.
So, what to say about the book… WOW! springs to mind. This is such a strong and dark story and knowing that some of it is based on actual events makes it for seriously tense read.
The story is actually 3 strands that the author flits back and forth between, they are seemingly unconnected until the tweaking and pulling together begins. Then suddenly things link and then I started to get an idea of where this was heading, call it the start of seeing the bigger picture if you like. Because of this seemingly randomness to the threads I was unable to really work things out until the author was ready for me to.
The title of the book, KULT, is an indicator as to the content, it is one of the threads and is set in the past and adds insight as the other stories start to merge. The main focus is the death of Viktor and his daughter Agnes, Luke a close friend does not believe it was suicide and begins to dig around for the answers himself. Then the third thread, wow this is evil and dark, it will not appeal to some readers as it deals with a hard to read subject, the author however does not go into details. I am now reading back through this paragraph and I have realised how obscure and random it is. I did think of changing it but, I am not one to let spoilers out so I have decided to leave it obscure!
This is such a fabulous read, it is dark and deals with tough subjects. The author has used his own experiences to create a story that is a mix of actual facts as well as a fictionalised story. I cannot imagine living within a cult, but I could see how manipulative cult members could be as I read this book. Knowing that the author personally knew what the cult was all about and then using that information adds a believably creepy and horrifying element to the story.
This story did take me a few chapters to get into and took me a while to understand and get to grips with the flow. Once I found my feet with the characters and the time changes I found it extremely addictive.
If you like dark, disturbing, chilling, manipulative, creepy and controlling crime thriller reads then this is one that may well appeal. KULT is a book I would definitely recommend and I look forward with interest to see what this author comes up with next.
I also have to mention the absolutely seamless translation from Swedish into English by Suzanne Martin Cheadle, without her work I would have unable to read such a fascinating book.
Stefan Malmström is a former news journalist who has worked for Sveriges Radio and Swedish TV4. Today he works as a consultant, lecturer and author. At a young age, Stefan was manipulated into the Church of Scientology in Hässleholm, a small town in southern Sweden. KULT, his first book, is based on his experiences in the cult. Stefan lives in Karlskrona in Sweden with his family.
See what other Book Blogger think about KULT by following the tour…
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my thoughts today on this very humorous book about parenting, Our Baby Was Born Premature by Paul Alexander.
My huge thanks to Run Amok Books for sending me a copy of this fab and funny book.
So, let me show you what it is all about…
Our Baby Was Born Premature is a uniquely conceived memoir rendered in “super-tweets.” Begun by the comedian-cum-author as a way to work out the complex and anxious feelings that an expecting/new parent goes through, Alexander offers up fresh insights into the perils and joys of parenthood, ranging from amusing to hilarious to keenly observant to chaotically reflective. It’s page after page of belly laughs for new parents, soon-to-be-parents, and never-wanna-be parents alike.
This is such a funny book and I suppose is kind of like a memoir from the perspective of a first time dad. It had me chuckling so much as I read it and made me feel very thankful that my own children are all gown up and that Grandchildren can be handed back to their parents! I think it is this already experienced and learnt knowledge of parenting myself that made it such an enjoyable read.
The book is laid out in one liners, or short paragraphs of differing lengths, they are quirky observation and interactions from the father. The book is only 168 pages long but I think there was pretty much something on every page that made me either nod knowingly, smirk or chuckle.
This is an American author, so I do admit that there was the odd time that I wasn’t sure what the author was referring to, but it didn’t matter as there was loads of other stuff that other parents will recognise.
I am going to share 3 little snippets that really made me laugh!
“Women have superpowers. Giving birth. Producing food. And what is my superpower? I can pee on bushes.”
“Always feed the baby after playing aeroplane.”
“let a four year old use an electric pencil sharpener and all the pencils in your house will be one inch long.”
The quick line format of this book means it is ideal for dipping in and out of, or if you are like me and love a good chuckle, you will want to read it in one sitting. The sentences give enough information for your brain to work out what has happened. The author is a comedian and even before I had realised this I thought, this guy is funny
Overall a very funny book that deals with observations from a fathers point of view. Very entertaining reading and one I would recommend.
Paul Alexander is a comedian who has worked in comedy clubs since the comedy gold rush of ’95 and appeared on MTV, A & E and Comedy Central. He has been published in news papers including The Muskokan and had a song featured on CBC’s ‘As It Happens.’ Paul also worked in film production in Los Angeles for many years and now resides in small town Canada where he runs a pumpkin race every Halloween.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my thoughts today on The Secret Life of Books – why they mean more than words by Tom Mole. My huge thanks to Alison Menzies for the invite to join the Blog Tour and also for arranging for my gorgeous copy of the book from Elliott & Thompson.
This is a book that is not about books but about the role books play in our lives and it is a fascinating read. Let me show you what the Synopsis says about it…
‘Probably the most compulsive text ever penned about what it means to handle and possess a book’ – Christopher de Hamel, author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts
‘A real treasure trove for book lovers’ – Alexander McCall Smith
We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.
The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.
In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.
It will change how you think about books.
This is a book about books, not about the stories in the books but the books themselves. Books can be read, looked at, studued, referenced and of course be sat on a shelf unread. They can be bought, passed on, donated, found, lost, discarded and recycled. They can be free and given away as part of a promotion or giveaway or they can go to auction for the collectors to bid on.
I like the way this Author has looked at the role books play in our lives, what impact they can have, how they are part of history and of the future. Throughout the book the author makes observations and I have to say he made me realise how right he is about many of the things he has looked at.
A favourite book can fall open at a favourite page, the reader may have made a doodle or folded the corner or left a note or has a bookmark in it. The book has become personal to that reader and becomes different to other prints of that book.
The author provides a fascinating and yet brief history about how books came about and their transition from scrolls. Historical facts are littered throughout this book and include mentions of authors, painters and, collectors. As books have become easier to access than many years ago. It’s not just books though, its all the accessories that may also be bought, so think about bookmarks, notebooks and pens, reading lights, bookscases, reader lights. As books have become more accessible then the market for accessories has developed.
The author uses a few analogies to show similarities between books and other everyday objects and this really helps to see books from a different perspective. It helps to see them as an object and not something that readers use to learn or escape from or into.
This is such a fascinating read and it makes observations that many readers will be aware of or maybe only subconsciously aware of. The author has explored books and the role in society, how they are seen and used. They have been burned, banned, championed and used as propaganda because of political or religious viewpoint.
My review for this book is just the very tip and there is so much more to discover. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read that I only planned on reading in short bursts, well that didn’t happen. Once I started it and recognised some of my own habits in it and discovered how their presence has evolved and developed. I think the author has pretty much covered every aspect of books and I cannot think of anything he has missed, but then I also discovered things that I had not realised!
This is a small book but my goodness there is a lot packed into its 256 pages, I am still surprised that it is only 256 pages as there is so much in it! Prof Tom Mole definitely knows his book history.
This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers, yep All readers! It is fascinating and I found it completely addictive. Loved it!
Tom Mole is Professor of English Literature and Book History at the University of Edinburgh, where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book. He has taught at universities in the UK and Canada, and has lectured widely in Europe, Australia and North America. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has written or edited several volumes about books and literature, including What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the 2018 Saltire Prize for Research Book of the Year. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young daughter.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx
I am absolutely delighted to share my thoughts on The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. This book surprised me as the title made me think it would be more of a mystery read, while there was a mysterious element to it, it was actually a historical fiction and I loved it.
Before I get too carried away, let me share the synopsis with you…
Hundred-year-old Stella Fortuna sits alone in her house in Wethersfield, Connecticut, crocheting blankets and angrily ignoring her sister, Tina, who lives across the street. The sisters, once the best of friends, have not spoken for thirty years, not since The Accident—the eighth time Stella nearly died.
But what unspeakable betrayal made Stella turn on her sister? Born in a mountaintop village in southern Italy, Stella and Tina had grown up in abject poverty in the years between the two World Wars, abandoned by their father, who had left to seek his fortune in L’America, and forced to drop out of school after first grade to work in the olive groves. Tough, vivacious, and fiercely loyal, the inseparable sisters were foils for each other, Stella precocious and charismatic, Tina obedient and hard-working. But as Stella suffered ever more serious near-death experiences—beginning in their childhood with the time she was burned by frying oil (“the eggplant attack”)—the girls’ beloved mother, Assunta, became convinced her eldest daughter was cursed, a victim of the Evil Eye or a malevolent ghost. But what was really trying to kill Stella Fortuna, eight (or maybe seven) different times?
Now, after a century of trauma, Stella has turned on those who she once thought loved her most. It is up to the family historian to unravel the life and deaths of Stella Fortuna and to connect the inexplicable dots in her dramatic story—to suggest, finally, a redemption of the battle-scarred and misunderstood woman known now to the family as “crazy Stella.”
The synopsis does a brilliant job of explaining what to expect from this wonderful book.
As I began reading I was reminded of another book I read many years ago, that was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in that book there was a repetition of family names being handed down to the next generation. While The Seven or Eight Deaths also has a similar naming tradition it was not as confusing as Marquez’s.
The author depicts a very simple life for the Fortuna family in the small remote Italian village that they call home. It is simple but also a very hard life. The main focus is on Stella and her sister Tina and their parents Assunta and Antonio. It is the females of this story that are the strength and I think their hard lifestyle in Italy has helped them in their strength and determination as the book proceeds further with their story.
Antonio is a father who has not spent a lot of time with the family, he goes off to work and eventually ends up in America where he then sends for the rest of his family to join him. I have to say I really did not like him, he is very much a “do as I say because I am your husband” character. It is typical of the traditional family dynamic of the time. As much as it really grated it was right for the story.
Because the author has used a time span of 100 hundred years there is a lot of world history things that could have been included, the author has picked out a couple of key events and this makes the reading very fluid and relevant to the females in the Fortuna family. I very much enjoyed their arrival in America and witnessing Stella and Tina’s reaction to the American way of life, the social differences made me smile. But life as a recently arrived immigrant is not all smiles and roses and the women have to work hard.
The author has a wonderful style of writing that made it so easy for me to disappear into the pages for 2-3 hours at a time. She showed the differences in the way of life for the family from a cultural as well as a social point of view. I liked how she touched on traditional local dishes that Assunta would have made, then being Americanised. It is little touches like this that appealed to me, it is a way of seeing the subtle changes and adaptations in culture and society.
The Seven or Eight deaths of Stella are explained throughout the story, and also the disagreements that gradually cause a rift between the sisters. The deaths part of the story does have a slight spookiness to it and this is why it is also listed in horror/occult and I, I do hope that does not put people off because for me this was just a small part of a bigger story. As I mentioned earlier, the women of the story are strong and determined and so I can see why the rift had been caused. The women are fabulously developed characters that grow and evolve with the story, they are joined at intervals by various other relatives and friends.
This is an emotional story but also one that I did not feel emotional about as I was reading it. This sounds a rather odd thing to say, as yes the story is emotional but the characters have a very firm and solid outlook on life. They do show emotion as such but as they are such strong characters they are more able to hold it in, although there are times when the dam breaks for them.
This is such a wonderful story that is set through the 1900’s, it gives a century of family history and at times has a literary fiction style to it. I found it to be very addictive reading and when I wasn’t reading I did often find myself thinking about it.
This is one that I think other historical fiction readers would really enjoy. It is heartwarming and also heartbreaking but without being overly emotional and does have some hard reading moments, it is about family and new starts and also tipping a nod to the past. I would definitely recommend.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx