Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

‘Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk’.

First of all, I’d like to start off by saying a massive thank you to Penny who blogs over at www.whatdoireadnow.co.uk for hosting an arc book giveaway on Twitter. I entered and was so surprised that I won!!

Right, so, how on earth can I write a review for Nothing Important Happened Today that’s going to make any sense at all because it BLEW MY MIND! I guess I’ll just start typing and see how it goes…

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides. One cult. No leader.

Click on the noose for Goodreads Synopsis

Carver by name. Carver by nature.

Crikey Will, your book has carved up my brain, your sharp words and stabby no nonsense writing style had my undivided attention instantly. INSTANTLY I TELL YOU.

Nothing Important Happened Today has the most aggressive narrative I’ve ever read. Each page was telling me something I needed to hear, in straight up, no nonsense language. Words were being thrown at me, paragraphs hitting me square between the eyes. Whole pages making me forget to bloody well blink for gods sake!! Carver ensures that you are one hundred percent listening to what he has to say.

There was an odd familiarity to each character, a strange, relatable feeling that often made me STOP and just THINK. I’d find myself staring out the window, trying to understand why I connected to a diverse bunch of characters that surely I had nothing in common with…

ALSO!!! Is it just me, or are there HIDDEN MESSAGES in this book?? Am I going crazy? Is Mr Carver trying to tell me something? Advise me? I just don’t know.

Anyway, back to the story. I love crime fiction. I also thoroughly enjoy True Crime, but I’ve never read anything that incorporates the two together. One of the BEST things about NIHT (apart from the GENIUS STORYLINE) was the real life serial killer references, a fascinating and brilliant insight into the real crimes that gave this story real guts.

This is the deepest of darkest stuff people.

Take social media. Take these Millenials’.

To best describe this book, (the style of the writing more than the plot itself) I’d say it was the English equivalent of Irvine Welshs’ Trainspotting. (Minus the jacking up and Scottish lingo that even my Scottish husband can’t understand!)

I don’t want to start ooh-ing and aah-ing about how much I want you to go buy this book, or borrow it from the library or download it to your Kindle. (Other e-readers are available of course!)

I certainly won’t go on about how sensitive the subject matter is. This book is full of triggers.

I often experience difficulties when reading books with more than, say, 4 or 5 characters. I didn’t have any trouble here though. Carvers’ short chapters with simple titles helped to keep me in the loop. This book was as EASY TO READ as it was HARD.

HANG ON A MINUTE! It’s just clicked. I related so much to Carvers’ characters because just like them, I’m a NOBODY!

I see it now. Crystal clear.

I don’t think I can write anymore about this book because it’ll be just mindless waffle. What I will say though is that I’m starting Good Samaritans by Carver in a minute because I simply need to read everything this authors written.

I’ll go and pop my review onto Goodreads, and give it the FIVE STARS IT DESERVES.

Thanks Will for writing this life-like freak show of a story. I loved everything about it.

Dark Matter [A Ghost Story] by Michelle Paver

‘In one of my periodicals, there’s a paper by someone who’s worked out that what we know of the universe is only a tiny percentage of what actually exists. He says what’s left can’t be seen or detected, but it’s there; he calls it dark matter‘.

Synopsis

London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.

And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…

Review

Loaded with tension and atmosphere, Dark Matter is my idea of the perfect ghost story. I could of easily read it in one sitting, I was gripped from the very start.

The writing was at a gentle pace, methodical, magical, terrifying. I was transfixed. In the first hundred pages not a lot had actually happened, but that didn’t matter to me in the slightest. The feelings of isolation and suspense traveled up through my fingers with the turn of each page, cold yet clammy because I was there, with Jack.

The relationships between the characters were bold and often amusing, their personalities deep, emotional, with subtle hints of their own darkness and fears.

Jacks relationship with Isaak, one of the eight Huskies who accompanied them on the expedition, developed into something really very heartwarming.

This is the first book I’ve read by Paver, but it definitely won’t be my last. Horror and the Paranormal is one of my go-to genres, so I’ve read a LOT of spooky reads. But this, by far, was of a higher quality, superior to most I’ve read before.

A five star rating is deserved.

www.michellepaver.comhttp://www.michellepaver.com

The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman by Summer Strevens

‘When Mary Bateman was born, she was of so little importance that the date of her birth went unrecorded. When it came to her final moments on the gallows however, thousands of spectators witnessed her execution upon York’s ‘New Drop’ on the morning of Monday 20th March 1809, some of whom, packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, were convinced to the very end that the Yorkshire Witch would save herself from death at the last moment by employing her supernatural powers to vanish into thin air as the noose tightened. Needless to say, she didn’t.’

Mary Bateman was no witch! More a petty thief and fraudster with a sociopathic personality. She was intelligent and used her reading and writing abilities (a rare attribute for women of this era) for unsavoury financial gains.

This was an interesting account of crime in the early 1800’s, as rarely were women seen to be of criminal mind, often simply being deemed ‘mad’ and locked away in an asylum.

Mary was charming and manipulative and had an inventive imagination, often making up non-existent characters, used purely to back up her dodgy dealings, to improve her chances of getting more money out of her victims.

She was labelled a witch because of her wicked ways, having some knowledge of herbs and remedies and offered her own kind of ‘healthcare’ to many unfortunate women. Poisonings were her main go-to MO all in the name of lining her own pockets.

I enjoyed how Strevens’ put this book together, it read well as a nonfiction and had enough creativity to keep me reading. I particularly liked how the time period was described, this added to my reading experience in a positive way. The centre of the book has glossy photos which always gets bonus points from me in a nonfiction read!

As I was coming to the end, I really enjoyed how macabre this era was. I won’t give too much away, but the following picture shows how Mary ended up! As a museum exhibit, of all things, how shocking!

I’d recommend to British history enthusiasts, particularly folk who have lived in and around Leeds and York. A lot of settings would be familiar to folk who dwell in these parts!

The Yorkshire Witch gets 4 stars from me!

I’d like to say thank you to those lovely folk at Pen & Sword Publishers, in particular Rosie, who kindly sent me my copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Born in London, Summer Strevens now lives and writes in Oxfordshire. Capitalising on a lifelong passion for historical research, as well as penning feature articles of regional historical interest, Summer’s published books include Haunted Yorkshire Dales, York Murder & Crime, The Birth of Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York, The A-Z of Curiosities of the Yorkshire Dales, Fashionably Fatal , Before They Were Fiction and The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Read back in February 2017, I came across my Goodreads review of Shantaram and decided I liked it enough to post it on my blog. Two and a half years after finishing it, I was right, I’ll never forget this book.

A 4 star read, with many 5 star elements

I have so many thoughts whirling around my head about this book. I had to sleep on it before writing my review because, on finishing it yesterday I couldn’t write the jumble of emotions down in a way that could be understood!

I’m still struggling to piece together how I’m going to review this without writing what hundreds of other readers already have. And give it the justice it deserves for its brilliance. 

It educated me, it filled me with awe, it lifted me up and plonked me down in Bombay, with a ‘there you are, take this little lot on board’. Sometimes, it was just too much, too many characters, too much information, some of which I had little or no interest in. (Eg: I care nowt about weapons and war logistics, which, in parts, I had to skim read as this book was sooo long!) 

Had Shantaram been 200 pages shorter, I probably would of awarded it full marks, but it was long, way too long. Bits could of been 
omitted without any adverse effect on the storyline.

That said, Gregory David Roberts has written a masterpiece. I’ve experienced India in such a unique way, the beauty, the dark underworld, the passion of its people, and thankfully, all in the safety of pages of a book! 

I would probably of never chosen this to read, but I was recommended it by a friend, who then lent it to me and urged me to read it. I could see how passionate he was about this book, and I have my own book loves that fill me with ‘hey, you have to read this’ moments. So I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse! 

I enjoy the challenge of a big fat book, and the challenge of reading about something I know little or nothing about. And above all, I love the satisfaction of having completed a book of such epic proportions. 

I’m rambling a bit now, so I’ll round this review up with one sentence:

Shantaram, I will never forget you.

A Predator and a Psychopath by Jay Kerk

‘She attracted me, but I didn’t know if her magnetism was because I hadn’t had sex for a year. Like grocery shopping when you’re hungry—it’s not recommended.’

It took me a little while to finish A Predator and a Psychopath because I went on holiday for a week. I had every intention of continuing and finishing this while I was away, but due to very hot weather and far too much fun both in and out of the sun, I didn’t pick it up again until I got back home. 

I did read a handful of chapters on the plane en-route, and had to laugh because one of them was called ‘Turbulence’! How very fitting!

A Predator and a Psychopath is one of those stories that I’d imagine many, many people would start, discover what one of the characters was like, and instantly stop out of sheer disgust. Normal people don’t read this kind of thing surely.

To best describe my reading experience would be to compare it to a car crash that you know is up ahead. You know full well that there’s fatalities, there could be graphic and unsettling scenes, stuff of nightmares that you’d rather not see. You look and stare regardless because you just can’t help yourself.

This book was awful. The characters were awful. So much of this book was utterly awful. I cannot stress enough how awful this book was. 

I loved it! Am I awful too? Perhaps.

What made this book worthy of a four star rating was the style in which it was written. It was so brilliantly put. So easy to follow. Each chapter flowed to the next with ease. My weeks break of not reading didn’t have any effect on my reading enjoyment. Often if I have a break in reading something, I really struggle to get back into it. Not this. It was captivating, full of triggers, I made faces throughout reading, often asking myself , why do read such horrific stuff? 

I feel like I shouldn’t recommend this book to anyone at all. The subject matter is twisted and questionable and sickening. But it was written with such intelligence, clearly, lots of research went into writing this, and that really shines throughout the book. 

To compare it to other books I’ve read, I’d say it has hints of Easton Ellis’ American Psycho mixed with Frey’s My Friend Leonard and Long’s The Book of Paul.

Thank you to Book Sirens for providing me with a copy to read in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach


James, a once eminent professor, needs full time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his distracted middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, a veritable treasure who seems happy to relieve them of their responsibilities. 

‘Our marriage was one long conversation that was only interrupted by her death’.

The Carer connected with me on a very personal level. A story I initially thought to be predictable, turned out to be a very powerful and surprising book, with numerous unexpected twists. 

I continually nodded my head throughout reading, raising my eyebrows on numerous occasions and thinking gosh, I totally get this. 

This is a cracking read, and it’s reinforced the fact that as you get older, life just gets more and more complicated. Fortunately, we do become wiser, so dealing with complex matters of the heart can be taken with a pinch or ten of salt. 

I think readers of a certain age would take a lot from this, particularly if they have/had elderly parents and middle aged siblings. 

I haven’t read anything before by Deborah Moggach, and unbeknown to me, she wrote The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and have added the book to my shelf. Her writing style is simple, yet magical. She designs her stories in a way that hooks gently. 

A solid 5 star read. It was faultless. 

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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Sweetpea by C J Skuse (a 2017 top read)

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

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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