Second Life by S.J Watson

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

w549296A big thank you to the author S.J Watson and Randon House UK, Transworld Publishing over at NetGalley for approving my request to read an advance copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review.

Just when you think you’ve got S.J Watson all figured out, he hits you with Second Life. Since discovering Before I Go To Sleep back in 2012, followed by an a very impatient wait for a second novel fed by innumerable rereads, I thought I had the complex mind of S.J Watson completely figured out. Then I got hit by Second Life.

With its publication date set for February 2015, Second Life introduces us to Julia Plummer, the wife of a very successful surgeon who, having led a pretty reckless past, has finally found solace in the comfort of a stable family life. That is until her sister is attacked and left for dead in a dark alley in the center of Paris, birthing the destruction of her idyllic world.

Julia’s character, although extremely flawed, with a string of bad decisions following her throughout the book, is an incredible protagonist; openly honest in her thoughts, unreliable in her predictions and constantly struggling against dangerously seductive conflicting thoughts.To me, Julia represented the uncensored mind of every 30-something year old woman stuck in a rut, battling their most intimate desires. Although a male author, S.J Watson executes the female protagonist perfectly, with such understanding that at times it seems more unsettling than the intended disturbance of the novels own plot.

Julia initially sets out to find the man responsible for her sisters killing, but having exhausted every conventional method available in uncovering the killers identity, her search takes her underground into the sordid world of internet chatrooms and eventually into the dangerously secret online sex life led by her sister. As the novel progresses Julia’s character changes, her personality unravels and we experience a darker vision of the suburban housewife. Delving deeper into the forbidden realm of internet dating, she finds herself falling for Lukas and begins to risk everything including her enviable lifestyle, to experience the cheap thrills of an adulterous affair as she attempts to discover whether or not he has murdered Kate.

About half way through the novel I was certain I had solved the puzzle, only to find a few chapters later I couldn’t have been more wrong. The developing relationship between Julia and Lukas is so treacherous it’s addictive. Its obvious where Julia’s attraction lies in Lukas and Watson writes so convincingly from her point of view that it is almost impossible not to condone every stupid decision she makes through the affair. Although the minor characters of Hugh, and Adrienne aren’t exactly aptly fitted to their roles, they too had their positives despite their boring husband and useless best friend casting.Second Life has so many  gut punching twists in its plot and characters that its a hopeless exercise to even attempt at guessing its outcome so don’t even bother!

Having experienced amazing success with Before I Go To Sleep, it was obvious his second publication was going to come under some scrutiny, but without a shadow of a doubt Second Life has exceeded every high expectation I had since its announcement back in 2014. With the potential to be the psychological thriller of the year, this one definitely deserves nothing less than a 5 star rating.

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Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

20935599First of all I’d like to thank the author, Sarah Dalton for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I received the Kindle Edition of Mary Hades through my NetGalley account for free in exchange for an honest review.

Although I haven’t yet read My Daylight Monsters, or in fact finished the Mary Hades series, I am already in love with Sarah Dalton’s writing. Her prose is well executed with the perfect amount of romance to horror and enough mystery and suspense to keep each chapter new and refreshing.

Mary Hades tells the story of a seventeen year old girl with the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Having been diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent a period of time within a mental institution, Mary’s unusual abilities have taken quite a toll on her life. Quite often she is visited by terrifying creatures called “The Things” who warn her of an impending tragedy waiting to happen close by. When Mary is dragged to Nettleby to holiday with her Mum and Dad, these “Things” begin showing up everywhere and the evil spirit of a young girl named Amy is set to take revenge on the male members of the small town.

Overall I really enjoyed the story, although at times I found it a little loose but nothing too off putting. My main issue was with Mary’s character who from time to time, I felt should have been a little more distressed or in fact terrified considering her struggle against her perceived mental illness as well as having to deal with horrific visions and paranormal encounters. Apart from my irrelevant issue with Mary, the story was really good, unfolded well and the magic behind Sarah Dalton’s narration held my interest to the very last page. As the first installment of the series there was a lot of character introduction and development as the story unraveled which I really enjoyed, so I’m interested to pick up My Daylight Monster’s before continuing on with the series.

I’d definitely recommend Mary Hades to any YA lover as well as readers who enjoy a good ghost story. The cover is stunningly gorgeous and although I own the ebook edition I will definitely pick this one up in paperback. In all I would award Mary Hades a well deserved, solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Suckers by Z.Rider

Posted: January 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

downloadFirst of all I would like to thank the Author Z.Rider, and Dark Ride Publishing for providing me with a free copy of Suckers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In an attempt to cut some distance off their journey back to their hotel, Dan Ferry and his fellow band mate Ray, take a detour through a dark alley which results in Dan being unexpectedly bitten by a mysterious bat like creature.

To be completely honest, Suckers made my skin crawl. Rider’s epically accurate descriptions sent my imagination into overdrive and gave me the creeps so bad I found it so difficult at times to keep reading through certain scenes. Although I found the story to be a big slow to begin with , the pace picks up dramatically about a third of the way through the book, and Rider’s undeniable ability to spin a dark tale becomes obvious. With intriguing and genuinely interesting characters, a creative and original plot, plus a writer with sinister Joe Hill-ish undertones , Sucker’s is a real page turning, fast paced novel, perfect for those “in one sitting” reads.

The Concealed by Sarah Kleck

Posted: January 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

23941068Firstly, I would like to thank the author, Sarah Kleck for providing me with a free kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Although I love the YA genre, I am relatively new to YA Fantasy, preferring a cute contemporary coming of age novel to the more extreme most of the time. However, Sarah Kleck’s supernatural fantasy debut, The Concealed certainly changed that. I’m already suffering withdrawal and can’t wait for the next installment in the series.

Well written, despite the occasional punctuation error here and there, this beautiful mystical adventure is woven around 19 year old Evelyn Lakewood, having lost both her parents and her sister Zara, begins her journey through college, studying Psychology at Christ Church College in Oxford. During her first day she befriends Sally and Felix, and later the beautiful indigo eyed Jared Calmburry. Evelyn instantly falls for the mysterious stranger, but finds his appearance and disappearance to be rather odd. Jared is hiding something and when Evelyn discovers just what it is, her world changes forever. As the story unfolds and her relationship with Jared develops, Evelyn enters into a realm of cryptic symbology and an evil prophecy predicting her fate.

I absolutely adored this book. From beginning to end I was hooked. Told from Evelyn’s POV, we are immediately drawn into her character. I loved her narration, and her thoughts seemed natural and although an orphan having endured the most horrific of situations she was genuinely relatable. From the beginning it was obvious that the relationship between Jared and Evelyn was going to be special, but still I found myself hung on every conversation and meeting between both characters. The relationships between each character as well as the plot and cliffhangers were well written and strategically placed throughout the novel with the use of beautiful language and structure. Sarah Kleck’s writing is addictive, and her characters are enslaving.

The Concealed was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and definitely deserves its five star rating. I would recommend this book for a more mature teenager, as some of the scenes between Jared and Evelyn are quite suggestive although nothing directly sexual in nature occurs. Towards the end of the book, within the last few chapters the story becomes much darker in nature, and I have to admit I found the forest scene between Evelyn and the Damnati to be quite terrifying! Definitely a must read, and certainly an author to watch out for.

n125954I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf since the beginning of last year and I am so embarrassed to reveal just how many attempts it’s taken me to pick it up and immerse myself totally in its story and to be honest I’m also sort of regretting I hadn’t done it sooner. This book was amazing from beginning to end, and even that’s an understatement.

It’s been a while since a book has left me an emotional wreck ( we’re talking Half Blood Prince / Deathly Hallows heartbreak here) but this book managed it within the first few chapters. The story begins with a little girl called Chiyo, who is sold into the slavery of a Japanese okiya by her father who cannot afford to provide his two daughters with the necessities of life while nursing his dying wife. Chiyo is a startlingly beautiful child with the most amazingly rare blue/grey eyes and is instantly seen as a potentially sucessful Geisha, but the transition she faces from her little tipsy house to the Nitta Okiya is anything but comfortable.

On her arrival, she is treated harshly by the elders of her geisha house and its the target of much hatred from head geisha, Hatsummomo, who takes an instant dislike to the young girl without much reason. As the story progresses we see the developmental changes of little Chiyo, and her evolution from floor scrubber to apprentice geisha, Sayuri. I admired Chiyo/Sayuri’s determination, and patience to survive the challenges she faced in her childhood as well as an everlasting sense of pride in her character for rising above the hardships that life dealt her so early in her young life.

Sayuri continues to mature as Arthur Golden weaves his captivating words from chapter to chapter and I found myself walking hand in hand with the young apprentice geisha as if I had been solely chosen to see her on her path, The narration was so personal and familiar I lost innumerable consecutive hours to the story’s unfolding.

As i progress to reading the latter part of this wonderful woman’s life I witnessed the caterpillar’s transformation to butterfly in slow motion. I ached for her degrading situation’s and her entrance to a world of underground eroticism, and shared her heartbreak for the impossible love she held for The Chairman among so many other events throughout her extraordinary life.

Before I began this book, I avoided any information surrounding its success as well as reviews and ratings and was amazed upon finishing it, that although a work of fiction, the author had based much of the culture and traditions of 1930 Japan, and the role of it’s Geisha upon information obtained from an actual Geisha of that time, Mineko Iwasaki, who enjoyed almost the same level of success as you Sayuri.

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Mineko Iwasaki inspiration for Arthur Golden’s character,Sayuri

Without any hesitation I would regard Memoirs of a Geisha as one of the most amazing story’s ever crafted and certainly an excellent portrayal of Japanese culture. I learned so much through the telling of Chiyo’s story and received a valuable education towards the misconceptions surrounding the geisha lifestyle. If you haven’t read this one yet, make it your New Year’s Resolution for 2015, you’ll be glad you did!

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve had so many unsuccessful book blogs over the last year, so for 2015 I’ve decided I’m going to make a special effort towards maintaining and updating The Fictional Vegan as well as participating in a Reading Challenge, something I always start but never actually finish. I’m really excited for my first Reading Challenge of 2015, and here is my check list

– A Book With More Than 500 Pages
– A Classic Romance
– A Book That Became A Movie   MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
– A Book Published This Year
– A Book With A Number In The Title
– A Book Written By Someone Under 30
– A Book With Non Human Characters
– A Funny Book
– A Book With a Female Author THE CONCEALED BY SARAH KLECK
– A Mystery or Thriller
– A Book With A One Word Title SUCKERS
– A Book of Short Stories
– A Book Set in a Different Country
– A Non Fiction Book
– A Popular Author’s First Book
A Book From An Author You Love But Haven’t Read Yet  MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
– A Book A Friend Recommended
– A Pulitzer Prize Winning Book
– A Book Based on a True Story
– A Book At The Bottom of Your To Read List
– A Book Your Mom Loves
– A Book You Were Supposed To Read in School But Didn’t
– A Memoir
– A Book You Can Finish In A Day
– A Book That Came Out The Year You Were Born
A Book With Magic THE CONCEALED
– A Graphic Novel
– A Book You Own But Never Read
– A Book You Started But Never Finished
– A Banned Book