Synopsis

When Rosie spends the summer of 1965 renting a room at Castaway house she begins to discover that the house – and its occupants – are not all that they seem. It is with the arrival of the mysterious Dockie, a man who appears to have a connection to the property but no living memory of what that is, that the mystery begins to unravel.

Review

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House has a little bit of everything; mystery, romance, drama, social and political change. There is something that hooks your interest on each page. The balance of the two time periods is fluid but doesn’t leave you breathless or confused. Mostly, it is the characters that draw you in. In particular, Robert and Rosie, both of whom are the underdogs of the narrative.

Rosie, struggling with her sexuality and a secret that she would rather keep in the past almost echoes the character of Robert Carver. Robert’s secret is his undying love for his cousin’s wife; a love that has landed him in hot water. Both of their stories are tragic and desperate, lost in a time when their wants are not considered socially acceptable.

What Lam has done with this book is create a well thought out, thorough mystery that does have you wanting to turn the next page. Her florid style has crafted an image of two time periods that are both so very vivid and colourful. Her skill lies in the description. The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House played out like a movie in my mind. For a first time novelist, this is an excellent achievement.

Personally, for me, the one thing I didn’t fully appreciate is the neatness of the story. The lack of loose ends seemed to clean for me but then that is the purpose of mystery writing – to not leave the reader asking questions. Lam accomplishes this and I cannot fault her for that. It is just a personal preference in the stories that I read that things are not too neat and tidy. However, people who are frequent readers of mystery dramas (of which I am not) will appreciate Lam’s attention to detail.

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam is available now.

the mysterioous affair at castaway house

Synopsis

“Why would anyone want to have sex with a corpse? Because it’s there. Because it’s different. Because you can. Because you’re curious. Because you don’t know until you try.”

The basic theme of Necrophilia Variations is that of necrophilia. Like Ronseal, this book does what it says on the packet. It is a collection of short chapter-esque stories that sometimes interlink all focussing on the taboo topic of sex with the dead.

Review

Honestly, I found this book all a bit stupid. It was like it tried to be shocking but then decided to that the best way to be shocking was to normalise the act of sex with cadavers and then become blasé, to throw the term and the action round. It almost tried too hard and lost momentum when the shock value wore off. I am not sure if this is because I approached the book expecting to be blown away by its forbidden subject matter and therefore was just numb to the often repetitive descriptions but it just didn’t live up to the promise that it could have held.

Admittedly, I did find the discussion in one of the later chapters rather amusing when the ectoplasm of a ghost was likened to spiritual lubricant – ‘sperm from the after world’. That was quite entertaining but overall the book just didn’t do it for me…which I suppose is a good thing given that the major theme within its pages is necrophilia. Quite frankly, it is two hundred pages of my life that I am never getting back.

Necrophilia Variations by Supervert is available now.

 

Synopsis

After finishing college, Piper Kerman started having adventures. She took off with her lover Nora, she jumped off cliffs, basically started living a reckless existence. Piper Kerman had little regard for the conventional rules when she was young and having fun. This unfortunately led to a one time drug money trafficking situation which came back to haunt her nearly ten years after the event.

Piper Kerman was incarcerated for 15 months. It was during those fifteen months (and with the help and love of her fellow inmates) that Kerman really began to truly understand what it means to live.

Review

I have to admit, my sole reason for reading this book is that I am desperate to watch the television series and since I have a weird OCD rule about not watching films or TV shows based on books before reading them, Orange is the New Black did get boosted up the TBR pile. Also, my aunty Susie was pretty insistent that I read and watch so she had someone to discuss the series with.

I think, like most people, I went into this book believing one thing about prisoners. People in the big house are bad. They have committed a crime and now they are doing time as a punishment. What I didn’t expect was the level of empathy and warmth I felt towards Kerman and her fellow inmates. Sure, the story was told with the perspective of a prisoner so it was unlikely that Kerman would be unnecessarily demonise her prison colleagues, however, what did become apparent is that, like Kerman herself, a lot of the women she shared prison life with were just victims of their own circumstance. Furthermore, they were the victims of a judicial system that doesn’t rehabilitate inmates to the best level.

However, Kerman does not bemoan her station in life; she doesn’t wallow in self pity and expect everyone to feel sorry for her. She knows the part she played in her incarceration and she owns it with honesty, balls and quite frankly a level of integrity that we should all aspire to have.

What Kerman manages to do so very excellently within Orange is the New Black is to raise awareness of the prison system in America, highlighting its very obvious flaws whilst respectfully understanding that she did commit a crime and acknowledging that she should pay for her sins. Hopefully the work that Piper Kerman has done since then – with this book amongst other things – will help to garner future reform for prisoners in the future.

Now, how do I download series one from NetFlix?

For more information on Piper Kerman please visit www.piperkerman.com

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is available now.

 

Synopsis

If you were to look carefully around Kick Lannigan’s home you would find some unusual things secreted; shrunken stars, knives and guns. Not the norm for a 21 year old. However, Kick is not your normal young adult. As a child, Kick was abducted and lived with her kidnappers for over four years before being returned home to her parents. Over ten years later and Kick hasn’t forgotten, she keeps herself safe in case anything like this should happen again.

Review

The concept of Stockholm Syndrome has always been a fascinating one to me and Chelsea Cain somewhat touches upon it in her novel One Kick. How can you expect a child to adjust to being back in the arms of their legal parents when all they have known is the “care” of their kidnappers? It is a mind blowing concept and one that Cain has handled extremely well. Whilst Stockholm Syndrome plays its part in the narrative the focus is on how Kick – as an adult – handles the daily comings and goings of her life.

Things become trickier for her when she is asked to help assist a rogue bounty hunter, James Bishop in two amber alert cases for missing children. Kick’s past could be the key to finding the missing children but whether Kick can go back to her past without falling apart is another matter altogether.

Whilst I cannot claim to know what tactics the FBI might use in a case such as this I feel I can safely assume that a level of suspended belief is needed to accept that they would call on a former victim for help, however, I genuinely did not question this whilst reading One Kick. The storyline ran smoothly and consistently and left little room for questioning. The characters were well thought out. Besides Kick, the bounty hunter James Bishop was presented as mysterious as possible and you always felt like you wanted to know more about him but Cain has cleverly held back on the details creating the perfect opportunity to serialise the book.

One Kick by Chelsea Cain is available now.

One Kick Cover

Oh and another week has passed people. This happens to be my last week off work. Having been off for six whole months I think it is about time to get back into the swing of things, however, I am saddened that my reading time will be greatly diminished. Essentially that means I am never getting my NetGalley percentage any higher. Oh if only I had a job that would pay me to read all the lib-long day. That would be sweet.

Anywho, this past week I got through nearly all of my TBR pile. I am still working my way through Tony Fletcher’s Boy About Town. It is a good book but not a sit down narrative that makes you want to read on and on. It is more of a book that you dip into.

The books that I did complete this week include:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas

One Kick by Chelsea Cain (review to be posted 26.08.14)

I would like to have read more but ah, what are you gonna do?

Today I started reading my 99th book of the year. Yes, I am one off the big 100. Here is the list of this week’s books that need to be read.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (Currently reading so I can indulge in the TV series and have copious conversations with my aunty who is desperate to talk about it.)

It Had to be You by Ellie Adams

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lamb (This was on last week’s TBR list but I didn’t get through it, boo hiss)

And if I am really lucky with my time I will try and read

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

In other book related news, today a great thing happened. It is one of those rare occasions when all the stars are aligned. Today I perused my Amazon wish list and one of the books that I had on it was reduced by 100%. It was free baby! I love it when that happens.

Anywho, I hope you all have a great book week.

Ooh and if you have a chance this week make sure you check out the blogs of some very awesome people – Matt Phil Carver, Rachel Dewhurst and Clare over at A Book and Tea.