My Five Star Top Ten of 2017

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It’s been a bumper year for fantastic reads, I’ve been to wonderful places, and experienced all the feels with this bunch of lovelies! It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to pick just ten, but here are my unforgettable books of the year, in no particular order:

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I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the authors of these books, all of which I was lucky enough to receive in exchange for review. Perhaps next year I might actually buy a book, but, you know, perks of being a book blogger/reviewer and all that! 😉

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Out of my Reading Comfort Zone

So, I’ve been thinking about my reading list for 2018 and I’ve made a few promises to my other half. I’m going to finally read what he’s been nagging me to read since forever.

I’m a horror, crime, psychological thriller and history fan. Sometimes I go for women’s contemporary fiction and humour. But in 2018 I will be mixing things up a bit and I’m going to read a couple of books that are completely out of my comfort zone. Not an easy decision, I’m a little bit worried I’m not going to enjoy myself, but I’m giving them a go, just to see why he keeps hassling me to read them.

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Ok, so without further ado, here are my #OutOfMyComfortZone 2018 reads:

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With a bit of luck he’ll stop going on and on about why I should read these, and who knows, I might actually really love them! I’m willing to give them a chance.

I’m not one for reading fantasy books at all, but I’ll admit when ANYTHING by Sanderson is being read in this house, there’s a sense of wonder and amazement that goes along with it. Engrossed is an understatement! I’m going to see what all the fuss is about. FINALLY, I hear him cry!

I’ve tried Pratchett books before and failed. I’ve only ever finished one; The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, a children’s book!! I can honestly say I don’t think I gave any others a chance. I’ve noticed that a lot of his books don’t have chapters as such. That, for me, is a worry, but I’m not letting that hold me back. So Pratchetts Witches #1 is my first ‘grown up’ journey to Discworld.

I know it’s only two out of the fifty-odd I’ll be reading next year, but if I read them, I think I’ll get a real sense of achievement. And maybe he will now shut up about them! For all I know, it might be ME that starts raving about how wonderful they are! Watch this space 😉

 

 

 

 

 

My Books Smell Funny…

Every day I’m coming across Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell, whether it’s on Goodreads or Twitter or here on WordPress. I don’t actually own it at the moment, but I will be getting it soon. Very soon. (Update: I now own it. And LOVE it!)

I absolutely love the horror genre, particularly stuff from the late 70’s and early 80’s, and seeing so many posts about vintage horror books had me causing utter chaos amongst my bookshelves.

The disarray was well worth it though, because this is what I wanted to share:

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Isn’t it just a sight to behold?

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s ALL by James Herbert. (Apart from the ones ABOUT Mr Herbert!) And what I noticed when I was organising the books is that my Magic Cottage is missing! (Not my REAL magic cottage, you understand, just the book. To misplace my real magic cottage would be very careless. And impossible, as I don’t have one.) I’ve loaned it to somebody and I can’t remember who. I’m mortified, so I’ll have to replace it, but I want the same edition as before, naturally. Anyway, now I’ve come to terms with the fact I’ve lost track of one of my FAVOURITE books and have mopped up my tears, lets discuss the smell.

If only I had a scratch and sniff option on my blog! (Although if I saw someone scratching my beloveds, I wouldn’t be best pleased, so I guess it’s a blessing really.) Some of these beauties have been sat on my bookshelves for over 30 years. They’re yellowing and dotted with mould. Some pages are falling out, the spines are ripped, but they’re loved. They have that smell that I struggle to describe, nothing I can think of can compare. It’s not a ‘oooh let’s get a Glade Plug-in like that’ smell, it’s more of a WONDERFULLY GRUBBY AROMA that oozes the stench of my first horror adventures.

Oh how I love you my fabulous fousty friends!

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So, from fousty friends, to bookish friends. Fancy sharing some smelly old reads that are close to your heart and catnip for your nose? I’d love to see more photos, especially if any are by (IMO) The Master of Macabre himself.

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In memory of James Herbert OBE 1943 – 2013.

I’ll finish on a lighter note, James’ dad was called Herbert. Yep, he was Mr Herbert Herbert, what crazy parents he must of had! Or just lazy!😂

 

My Sweet Friend by H A Leuschel

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading a collection of short stories by the same author earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading this novella, but I had a feeling that Manipulated Lives would be a hard act to follow.

My Sweet Friend is a deep, and slightly dark look into the dynamics of friendship and how people aren’t necessarily what they seem. Manipulators are often clever, devious people who lie and do whatever is needed for their own ends. H.A. Leuschel once again hooked me by her subtly complex characters that have an intriguing depth.

Told in alternate chapters by the two main characters, the story follows Alexa and Rosie and their close friendship. They are work colleagues as well as best friends, and after Alexa takes some time off from work, we get to see that something between the two women isn’t quite ringing true.

The author is excellent at portraying characters that are flawed by their past. The friendship here is proved to be deceitful, manipulative and fake. I enjoyed that I was unable to pinpoint who was being manipulated by who until about half way through. When the characters back stories fell into place, and their true colours started to show through, I was dying to find out how the story would pan out.

The writing style felt fresh and breezy, like the location in which it was set. For me, there’s always something so lovely about France, but the author creates a backdrop of beauty for something that’s altogether rather unsettling.

My only complaint is when I got to the end, I felt disappointed that I couldn’t continue reading. There is so much to this story that could be elaborated and built upon, that’s my problem with novellas, they’re just not long enough! (Stating the obvious I know, but that’s why I don’t read many stories under 300 pages!)

Overall, I enjoyed this novella immensely, I am just hoping that Helene will write something along these same lines that is at least 300 pages, so I can sink my teeth right in. Her short stories are a delicious snack, and I’d really like a proper roast with all the trimmings!

HUGE thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this novella in exchange for an honest review, as always, it was a pleasure.

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Shadowland by Radclyffe

Shadowland by Radclyffe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quite a few years ago now, when I got my hands on my first Kindle, I went on a free-book rampage. I’d not long been a member of GR, but I was loving my newly found access to loads of free books and adding them to my (very small at the time!) TBR shelf. Now, I’ll own up, a LOT of them were Kindle-smut! I’d discovered that a lot of freebies, ironically, came at a price, being that 80%+ of them were utter rubbish!! But, occasionally, there was a diamond in the rough, and Shadowland by Radclyffe was one of them.

After recently reading many thrillers, horrors, historical fic, etc, etc, I wanted to read something completely different. So I hunted through my Kindle and decided to read this, and it hooked me in, handcuffed my attention to the bed, and promptly impressed the hell out of me!

Shadowland, in a nutshell, is a complex story about a group of gay women who have more baggage, secrets, flaws, and attitude than ANY bunch of characters I’ve ever read about. Radclyffe has written the most brilliant character-focused story I’ve come across in a long, long time. I don’t read much at all in the LGBT fiction genre, but the character dynamics are first class. Having no men around makes for an absolute knock-out read! Even the women don’t understand the women, so I don’t think men have much hope, that’s for sure!

Now, onto the more gritty side of things.

Trigger warning, a BIG part of this story evolves around, some might say, unconventional lifestyles. In that there’s BDSM, total power exchange (TPE), D/s (Domme/sub) relationships and leather, lots of leather 😉 There is also mind-games, occasional drug use, edge play and a variety of sex toys that inflict both pleasure and pain. So if you’re after a cute lesbian romance, this book isn’t for you. However, if you’ve got an open mind and just fancy reading something a little darker, without that typical ‘alpha male’ throwing his weight around, choose this, there’s ‘alpha females’ instead. How refreshing!

So, going back to the smut side of things, this one stands right out from the crowd. The author didn’t feel the need to use profanity hardly at all. The sex scenes are erotic and loving, with very little essence of titillation for titillations sake, just the right amount of description to set the scene and paint the picture bold enough for the reader to capture the imagery perfectly.

When a plot is this good, when the characters are this strong and when the writing has such flow, I’m completely sold. This is NOT smut. Or pointless, crass sexploits purely written to get the reader ‘off’! This is a great character driven story by a brilliant author.

I really can’t fault it. My only disappointment is that none of Radclyffes other books are free!!

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