Goodreads Reviews, Historical, LGBT

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…’we were girls with curious histories – girls with pasts like boxes with ill-fitting lids.’

My lid has never seemed to fit properly!

This is a ‘I can’t possibly review this’ review.

Sarah Waters can do no wrong in my eyes. She could publish her shopping list and I’d give it five stars.

Every book I’ve read by this author (all of them) pleases me like nothing else. I’m sure her pen, laptop or notebook is really some kind of magic paintbrush that comes pre-installed with genius edition software for which she alone knows the password.

Tipping the Velvet is perfection. Sarah has an incredible ability at sucking me in, chewing me up, and spitting me out. I feel satisfied, yet longing for more. I need more, Sarah, write more, write fifty more.

I’m invested in all her characters one hundred percent, I feel for them, I want to be their friend, I want to tell them it’ll be alright and pass them a smoke and appreciate their taste in attire, without judgement.

I am suffering from the biggest book hangover ever. Send help.

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Please note: This is a representation of my feelings, and not, I REPEAT NOT, a representation of my taste in clothes. I don’t do beige. YET.

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Goodreads Reviews, Humour, Lisa's Book Life

Sweetpea by C J Skuse (a 2017 top read)

SweetpeaSweetpea by C.J. Skuse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I don’t want to talk any more about today. I just want to overeat and shit myself and die. Or shit myself after I die. Apparently that happens. And when you give birth too. Ugh. What a world.”

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day, her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples and squashes her sliced loaf, to the driver who cuts her up on her way to work. And then there’s the people who really deserve to die.

This story had me roaring with laughter like the mad woman I am. It is 100% my kind of humour, for which I am 100% not sorry for. It’s certainly NOT your average humour, and it could very well offend and disturb a lot of people. But not me, I loved it!

So, in order to try and lead a relatively normal life, Rhiannon, creates The Act. This is basically her way of fitting in with her colleagues and her group of friends. (aka ‘The PICSO’s’. You’ll have to read it to find out what that stands for. It’s absolute class, and everyone has a PICSO or ten in their lives!) They have no idea that she is a psychopath with uncontrollable murderous tendencies.

The story is told in diary format, which I love because it’s so easy to follow. What I loved about it most of all though was the humour. It was dark, deeply disturbing and very un-pc. Worryingly, I heard my own thoughts countless times throughout!

“Got on the scales first thing – still not lost the Christmas poundage. Googled ‘West Country Liposuction’. Can’t afford it. Had an eclair.” (Yes! Cake IS the answer!)

Had I have read this in a public place, I’d of got very strange looks because I was laughing and snorting and nodding my head in agreement all the way through. Rhiannon, you’re a gem, albeit a murderous one!!

Without giving too much away, here’s a couple of tasters of her many Kill Lists which cropped up throughout the story;

1. People who walk in groups along the pavement so no one else can get past, like they’re fucking in Reservoir Dogs. (Why do people do this?!)

2. Middle-class people who believe it’s their God-given right to bring their babies into restaurants and allow them to squawk all through a meal. (Ugh, don’t get me started on this one!)

3. Interrupters. (Yep, totally agree!)

I know it’s a pretty harsh attitude to have, but I’m certain loads of people think these things, the older I’ve got, the less tolerant I’ve become, so these felt very relatable for me! Not to the extent that I want to kill anybody though, I’d like to point out!! Rhiannon, you’re my kind of girl. But I value my life far too much to be your friend!

C J Skuse has created incredibly believable characters with such depth and imagination that every single one of them stood out for one reason or another. Sweetpea was an absolute joy to read. However, it certainly won’t be for everyone because there’s violence, profanity and stuff that is quite simply, very, very wrong. But, for me, entertainment-wise, it was very, very right. I just hope the author will be writing another instalment, because, damn it, that ended on a cliff-hanger! I need to know what happens to Rhiannon next!

This gets a well-earned 5 stars from me, mainly because I can’t stop thinking about it and I end up chuckling to myself!

Oh, and here’s what would be on my Kill List, just for the record;

1. Boasters.

2. Upstairs neighbours who think it’s a grand idea to have laminate floors with insufficient underlay and 3 tap-dancing kids.

3. People who lick the wooden stick of an ice lolly.

4. The previous tenant of MY flat, who insists on getting ‘payday loans’ under MY address with no intention of paying it back. YOU DO NOT LIVE HERE ANY MORE. THEY WILL FIND YOU. AND KILL YOU. Or maybe just insist you pay it back in manageable instalments of £1.21 a month.

I’d like to thank the author, C J Skuse, and the publisher, HQ (UK), for the opportunity to read this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The pleasure was all mine!

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Goodreads Reviews, LGBT

Shadowland by Radclyffe

ShadowlandShadowland 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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Goodreads Reviews, Historical, Paranormal

The Lost Village (The Ghost Hunters #2) by Neil Spring (A 2017 top read)

The Lost Village (The Ghost Hunters, #2)The Lost Village by Neil Spring

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘I have a bad feeling I can’t shake. A sense that there’s something deeper out in that village. Something darker.’

After reading Neil Spring’s The Ghost Hunters #1 last year, and thoroughly enjoying it, I was very excited to see The Lost Village (The Ghost Hunters #2) available to request on NetGalley. I was over the moon when I was accepted to read more about Harry Price and Sarah Grey’s adventures into the paranormal.

Unlike other books about ghostly goings-on that I’ve read, Spring gives the genre a bit of twist, in that the main protagonists agenda is to debunk and expose fraudsters who claim they can contact the dead.

What we get is a fascinating insight into how far people will go to convince others of the existence of an afterlife, whether it’s for entertainment purposes in order to make a few quid, or perhaps merely to ‘cover up’ something truly sinister and evil that’s occurring in this very real life of ours.

Both main characters in this story were absolutely superb, very much a chalk and cheese coupling that works a treat. Price, a bolshy individual with real focus on finding an explanation for everything, and the sweet, but spiritually sassy Miss Grey, doing her upmost to tolerate Price, but not allowing him to manipulate her beliefs in any way. Between the two of them, their paranormal investigations are meticulous and fascinating.

The story itself is written beautifully, it reads with atmosphere and injects dread and fear into the reader. There are some pretty ghastly scenes that are described with just enough detail to chill to the bone, without being unnecessarily graphic or bloody.

Spring has a real poetic ability in setting a scene. I was transported to the lost village of Imber every time I picked this up. The bleakness of Salisbury Plain and it’s typically unpleasant weather all woven into a story of mystery and multiple layers that fitted together perfectly, like a spooky jigsaw puzzle.

‘Sometimes I think locations speak to us, like our dreams do. We don’t always know exactly what they’re trying to tell us, but when those messages are imbued with meaning, we sense it acutely.’

This book undoubtedly deserves 5 stars. It is clever, educational, atmospheric and incredibly entertaining. I would recommend it to readers who enjoyed Susan Hills ‘The Woman in Black’.

Huge thanks to NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author, Neil Spring for allowing me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure.

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