Blog prompt: Read a book because of the hype?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

 So would you read a book just because of the hype?

That would be a definate “no”. I dont read because of media hype (see “50 shades of grey”) or because a book has simply been short or long listed on someone’s book prize (e.g. Man Booker etc). I pick up books I like the sound of and that I think I would enjoy. I have picked up some books that have ended up on one or more of the lists, but that is because I’ve liked the sound of them and not the other way arond.

I find I am invariably disappointed with the ones that are subject to social media hype – I read the Bridget Jones books after the 1st film came out and wondered what the fuss was about, and certainly wont be reading the new one. “50 shades” only got any exposure because it was a woman writing for the one hand brigade and you could read it in publicon an ebook *without anyone noticing* (unless you’re the type of person who blushes). There’s no guarentee that the book is well written or editied, and not full of spelling mistakes.

So what about you? Would you read a book because of the hype?

Blog Prompt: What is the best book marketing tool?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

What do you think is the best book marketing tool? Blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, or goodreads?

I get to hear about books from a variety of sources. I dont use pinterest (so that’s clearly not a good source of marketing to me), and I follow few publishers or authors on facebook, so that’s not a good source either.

I pick up a few (but not many) books on Goodreads, and only since I’ve been following certain groups on the site.

I have had more success with the Early Reviewers group on Libraything and so I am more aware of certain writers after receiving books from there.

The primary, and therefore best marketing tool for me is Twitter, where I get to interact with authors and publishers. The secondary source for me is my (this) blog which provides an email route for contact with me.

That’s what I think – what works for you?

Book Review: City of Ice by John Farrow

cityiceCity of Ice by John Farrow

A college kid in a Santa Claus suit is tortured, murdered, and left hanging from a meat hook on Christmas Eve – a gift intended for one particular cop. This debut thriller set in bone-chilling midwinter Montreal features one of the most compelling new heroes to emerge in crime fiction: Sergeant-Detective Emile Cinq-Mars. A brilliant logician, an eccentric who follows his own rules, this old-style cop is beleaguered by the virulent crime wave that has engulfed his city. While political uncertainty over separatism has damaged Montreal’s social and economic life, organized crime has been quick to take advantage. The Russian Mafia, rival motorcycle gangs, and infiltrators from the CIA are engaged in violent turf wars, while the police force – teeming with corruption – struggles to keep the city safe. Even Cinq-Mars, whose stunning arrests have made him a local hero, appears to have been compromised. How has he managed to penetrate Montreal’s criminal elite? Who are his informants and how do they acquire their vast knowledge? And who is the young female American operative he seems so desperate to save from the clutches of the mob?

 Crosses, double-crosses and triple-crosses in Montral, where the Hells Angels and the Mafia are teaming up with the Russians to carve up the underworld whilst betraying each other. Meanwhile Cinq-Mars from City police is working almost on his own and to his own version of the rules to control the investigation of various murders. He has to juggle corruption from within, dirty cops, CIA infiltrating the Hells Angels, betrayals and negotiations on all sides, whilst getting older.

I had difficulty with Cinq-Marns, and part of it was the author’s way of referring to him – throughout the book his moniker changed, from the familiar “Emile”, through Cinq-Mars right up to Sergeant-Detective Cinq Mars. It was as if the author either went through waves of linking/being comfortable with his creation, to not knowing/linking him very much (similar to Cornwell suddenly changing from “Kay” to “Scarpetta” part way through her series).

Overall, i thought this to be a  reasonable book, lot of strings to be pulled together, a modicum of violence.


Book Review: China Governess by Margery Allingham

chinagovernnessThe China Governess by Margery Allingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Timothy Kinnit, rich, handsome, well-bred, learns on the eve of his elopement, that he was adopted. When Timothy becomes the chief suspect in a housebreaking and later a suspicious death, his fiancée enlists the help of Albert Campion.

One of the later Campion stories, that features not so much Campion and even less Lugg (who barely gets a speaking part in it all)

Set about 20 years after WWII and Timothy, about to elope with his fiancee, finds out that he was adopted and the man he thought was his father isnt. Meanwhile, in a slum part of London that was bombed out during the war, a new start is threatened by a model flat being trashed by an unknown assailant.

Everything comes together, pulling together the fall out from the Blitz and the confusion of evacuation, blackmail, murder, and alcoholics.

Not the best Campion book, (too much focus on the other characters in the book to allow Campion to come through) and not my favourite – the fact that it took over a week to complete what is quite a short book shows this.


Book Review: Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

youremineUntil You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

Until You’re Mine tells the story of Claudia who seems to have the perfect life. She’s heavily pregnant with a much wanted baby; she has a loving husband, and a beautiful home. And then Zoe steps into her life. Zoe has come to help Claudia when her baby arrives. But there’s something about Zoe that Claudia doesn’t like. Or trust. And when she finds Zoe in her room going through her most personal possessions, Claudia’s anxiety turns to real fear.

Received a free copy from Library Of Birmingham as part of their Big City Read, in exchange for a review. The Author’s website is here

This story is told in multiple, female voices – two first person (Claudia and Zoe), one third person (Lorraine, the police detective). There’s plenty to keep the reader guessing, as the pregnant Claudia hires Zoe to help be a nanny to her twin step-sons as Claudia’s Navy husband returns to sea, and her due date comes nearer.   It seems Zoe is not all she seems, and everyone is hiding secrets.

Meanwhile Lorraine and her police detective husband are working the murder of one pregnant woman and the near fatal attack of another near-term woman, as it seems that there is nothing some people will do for a baby of their own.

Since saying much more will be entering this post into the Spoiler zone, I’ll try to say no more on the subject.  There is an exploration of motherhood – those who cant have children but want one, those who can but dont deserve them, those who have them but whose children never end up as planned, looking after someone else’s children.

The choice of the multiple voices was good, not only from preventing the reader from getting bored, but allowing the dénouement to be clouded, but fast until the climax. Because of the subject matter, and some of the scenes covered in the book, this is not for everyone, but worth it for those who are able to get through it.

Blog Prompt: What qualifies a book as good or bad?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

 To you, what qualifies a book as good or bad? Are some books objectively better than others, or is it purely a matter of opinion?

What qualifies a book as good?

Majority of the time I think it’s a matter of opinion.  Some people adore Wuthering Heights and think it’s the best book ever written.  I’ve read it several times over the years, hoping it would be much better this time, but still come away thinking it’s highly overwrought and not worth the hype.  It’s a good book but certainly not the best book ever written. In the end it boils down to: decent story, written well and in such a way you want to finish it, and with 3 dimensional characters.  I’ve read 200 page books that have gone on too long and 1000 page books where I’ve felt bereft at the end and wanted more immediately.

What qualifies a book as bad?

Meanwhile Wuthering Heights also not a bad book.  These are the ones that are badly written, badly edited or badly printed/formatted.  Where the writer has no idea how to build up a sustained narrative; not leave the book riddled with plot holes; where the resolution is achieved through the introduction of a character, object or situation presented in the last chapter.

Where neither the editor or the author has spotted the spelling mistakes or changes in tense in the middle of a sentence (few people can do a change in narrative within a chapter – and fewer can do it within the same paragraph – and if you haven’t done it before….you’re not one of them).

I’ve read ebooks where the formatting of the book has been so poor that it’s taken me ages to work out that it’s been told in multiple viewpoints – unfortunately, the “voices” of the characters were not different enough for me to determine who was narrating at that point – a reader shouldnt need the name of a character at the top of a chapter for them to know who is talking at that point.  The story had potential – and I might have been able to finish, but I was over half way through before I worked out who was who, by which time I couldnt be bothered to take it to the end.

Book Review: Savior by Anthony Caplan

saviorSavior by Anthony Caplan

A father and son stumble into the secret world of the Santos Muertos, a crime cartel bent on global domination. The son must find his father and keep the secret of the Chocomal, the ancient Mayan code underlying the creation of matter in the universe, from falling into the wrong hands. A story of sacrifice and love set in a contemporary, dystopian America.

Sent to me by the author in ebook format in return for a review. As well as his website, he can be found on twitter as @anthonycaplan1. This book will be published in late April 2014.

Following the death of his wife Mary the year previously, Al and his 15 year old son Ricky go on holiday to Guatamala, to do some bonding – their relationship has been strained since Ricky chose not to follow his father’s wishes in continuing with football, preferring to ski.

Part of the holiday is to reconnect with Mary’s memory, going to places she had loved, and finding out more about the Mayan history she was interested in. At the surf shop, Ricky picks up a Mayan artefact called the Chocomal, which leads them into contact with the underbelly of the American continent, with the story traversing from Guatamala northwards into Canada with a trail of death and loss following behind.

For the 15 year old Ricky, he has to track down his father once the latter gets kidnapped, and find the people who can get him to where he needs to be whilst having little to no money. This means he ends up running with thieves, druggies, hippies, hackers and whores.
Meanwhile Al, has been kidnapped and transported to Canada, in order to tempt Ricky, who holds the Chocomal, to break cover. Al is held initially in solitary confinement, and subjected to torture (both physical and psychological). He is broken by his treatment, not knowing when he is – and only sometimes where he is – from one day to the next. He finds out the plans to make use of the Chocomal, that will rip the known world apart. When reunited with Ricky they work together, with some of the others kidnapped by Santos Muertos to stop them.

The formatting of the book is good and easily to get through, despite the lack of quotation marks! I was a little concerned by the way the first chapter was written, in that whilst it is a different and interesting way of writing (the mind of the father as he is disintegrating whilst held captive) it would have been a difficult book to read if it had continued for more than a chapter. However, a brave and interesting start to a book.

During his travel north Ricky – a surfer dude with enough strength to stand up to his father’s bullying techniques over playing football – seems in no hurry to move north, and spends weeks with drunks and dopeheads in the belief they can help him at some time in the future. Ricky leaves many of his friends and acquaintances behind as soon as they lose their usefulness and with nary a look back or regret, even if that person dies.

Book Review: The Void by Brett J. Talley

thevoidThe Void by Brett J. Talley

In the deepest reaches of space, on a ship that no longer exists, six travelers stare into the abyss . . . and the abyss stares back. Man has finally mastered the art of space travel and in a few hours passengers can travel light years across the galaxy. But, there’s a catch-the traveler must be asleep for the journey, and with sleep come the dreams. Only the sleeper can know what his dream entails, for each is tailored to his own mind, built from his fears, his secrets, his past . . . and sometimes his future. That the dreams occasionally drive men mad is but the price of technological advance. But when a transport on a routine mission comes upon an abandoned ship, missing for more than a decade, six travelers-each with something to hide-discover that perhaps the dreams are more than just figments of their imagination. Indeed, they may be a window to a reality beyond their own where shadow has substance and the darkness is a thing unto itself, truly worthy of fear

Received as part of LibraryThing Early Reviewers June 2012 batch. Brett can be found here.

Did seem to be a bit of a palaver to get the book – I got sent an email, that gave me a link to a password protected page, where after entering the password, I had to enter my name and email on another page, to take me to another page, where I could make my free purchase and download the book. Despite the “download the version specifically formatted for your type of ebook!” there was the odd formatting issue when loaded onto my Kobo, but that was more of a personal taste issue, than there being a fault with the book itself.

As to the book itself – it’s been a long time since I’ve read either a scifi book or a horror book. There’s a little hard science in this, but it’s more about the effect of warp on the humans involved. It turns out that warp causes dreams, all of which are connected (though few people realise it as few openly talk about that they see in their dreams).

In an attempt to stop the dreams, there is an experiment on a specially designed ship (the singularity) to test a new way of travel. The Chronos comes across the desolated remains of the Singularity and finds out what happened – causing the remaining crew to confront not only the horror of what happened on the Singularity, but what the dreams mean to themselves.

There are some truly disturbing parts in the book, though I did feel that those on the Singularity who managed to record their dreams were very wordy and didnt come across as people who were borederline mad and in fear for their lives (from the Shadows, their crewmates or themselves)

March 2014 Acquisitions

After last month’s miss on the acquisitions post (a failure to track the books as they came in, and a lack of interest in going back and working out what I had picked up), I’m going to start again.  This doesn’t cover *all* the books I pick up during the previous month – that would just be plain embarrassing – but gives you a clue of what I’ve been up to.

Minutes before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson

minutesbeforesunsetShe was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Received from the author

The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook by Lynn Hill

ccccThe secret is out! Discover 120 sensational cake recipes from the founder and members of Britain’s first and only underground cake club. Secret venues, inspired themes, and fabulous cakes. Across the UK and beyond, thousands of home bakers have been meeting covertly in hidden locations with the same simple mission: bake, eat, and gossip about cake. These are the members of the phenomenally popular Clandestine Cake Club—and now, for the first time, they share their baking secrets. The rules are quite clear: no cupcakes, no muffins, no brownies, pies, or tarts. It’s all about cake! With each event organized around a creative theme, the results are some of the most loved and inventive baked delights you’ll ever eat. The inspiring recipes include Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Cake; Smoked Chili Chocolate Cake; Blood Orange and Rosemary Loaf; Dark’n’Stormy Cake; Rose, Rhubarb & Cardamom Cake; Chai-soaked Vanilla Sponge; a giant Lemon Fondant Fancy; and the unmissable five-tier Rainbow Cake; all presented with stunning photography and sneak-peek snaps from club events.

It’s rare for me to pick up non fiction books, and I wouldnt call myself a particularly good baker, but this was on sale in the local The Works shop, and i needed a little bit of cheering up, so why not eh?

The Gates of Rome (Emperor #1), by Conn Iggulden

gatesofromeOn the lush Italian peninsula, a new empire is taking shape. At its heart is the city of Rome, a place of glory and decadence, beauty and bloodshed. Against this vivid backdrop, two boys are growing to manhood, dreaming of battles, fame, and glory in service of the mightiest empire the world has ever known. One is the son of a senator, a boy of privilege and ambition to whom much has been given and from whom much is expected. The other is a bastard child, a boy of strength and cunning, whose love for his adoptive family-and his adoptive brother-will be the most powerful force in his life.
As young Gaius and Marcus are trained in the art of combat-under the tutelage of one of Rome’s most fearsome gladiators-Rome itself is being rocked by the art of treachery and ambition, caught in a tug-of-war as two rival generals, Marius and Sulla, push the empire toward civil war. For Marcus, a bloody campaign in Greece will become a young soldier’s proving ground. For Gaius, the equally deadly infighting of the Roman Senate will be the battlefield where he hones his courage and skill. And for both, the love of an extraordinary slave girl will be an honor each will covet but only one will win.
The two friends are forced to walk different paths, and by the time they meet again everything will have changed. Both will have known love, loss, and violence. And the land where they were once innocent will be thrust into the grip of bitter conflict-a conflict that will set Roman against Roman…and put their friendship to the ultimate test.

Touching distance by Rebecca Abrams

touchingdistanceIt is 1790. After ten years’ training in the great medical schools of Europe, Alec Gordon has returned to Scotland to take up the post of physician in the Aberdeen Dispensary. Alec has ambitious plans for modernizing medical practice in the town, starting with the local midwives, whose ignorance and old-fashioned methods appal him.

But Alec’s dreams of progress are thrown into disarray when a mysterious disease suddenly strikes the town, attacking and killing every newly delivered mother for miles around. Alec alone recognizes it as childbed fever, a disease more deadly than the plague, a condition that has baffled the greatest physicians of the age, an illness with no known cause and no known cure.

Desperate to save his patients’ lives, Alec sets out on an astonishing medical quest to conquer the disease. But while Alec struggles to find solutions that lie far in the future, his wife Elizabeth is increasingly lost in the past, prey to terrifying memories of her childhood in Antigua. As she knows and he will learn, some diseases lie beyond the reach of reason.

Picked up in the local Waterstones Clearance Sale

The Path to the Lake by Susan Sallis

pathtothelakeViv’s marriage to David was not a conventional one, but when he died – in an accident for which she blamed herself – it was as if her whole world had collapsed around her. She escaped by running, mainly around the nearby lake, which was once a popular place of recreation but was now desolate and deserted . It became both her refuge and her dread.

Picked up in the local Waterstones Clearance Sale

Book Review: The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

Seeking refuge and anonymity in the cobbled streets of Montmartre, Yanne and her daughters, Rosette and Annie, live peacefully, if not happily, above their little chocolate shop.Nothing unusual marks them out; no red sachets hang by the door.The wind has stopped – at least for a while.Then into their lives blows Zozie de l’Alba, the lady with the lollipop shoes, and everything begins to change….

But this new friendship is not what it seems. Ruthless, devious and seductive, Zozie de l’Alba has plans of her own – plans that will shake their world to pieces.And with everything she loves at stake, Yanne must face a difficult choice; to flee, as she has done so many times before, or to confront her most dangerous enemy…..

This is the follow on from Chocolat and set 4 years later. When reading Chocolat, I hadnt realised how modern the setting was – it was only in this book and the talk of Euros, that I realised it was an early 21st century story, rather than set mid 20th.

Lots more magic in this book, both European and South American. It is the story (in part) of Vianne and Zozie, and what Vianne is prepared to lose in order to gain what she believes is a normal life for her and her two daughters. Zozie starts taking over Vianne’s life, building up the chocolate shop just as Vianne had done in Chocolate, and winning over Vianne’s older daughter. Finally Vianne has to decide on what she wants in this world

Agree with other reviewers that it’s perhaps a little long, and the main disadvantage when reading Harris’ books – I have a near overriding urge to Bake! (I’ve even hunted out the cookery book and may inflict the results on people!).


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