Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

I have already reviewed this title for Ink and Paper Hearts and you can see my review here.

The Orpheus Descent

This review was originally published as a guest review earlier this week over at Shaz's Book Blog. You can check out Sharon's great blog here and see the original review here

I was delighted to be given the chance to do a guest review for Shaz’s Book Blog as it has introduced me to a new author I really liked. This is my first encounter with Tom Harper which surprises me as he has written a number of historical mystery novels and his books will appeal to fans of Kate Mosse and Manda Scott.
The Orpheus Descent is a dual time mystery following the philosopher Plato as he journeys to Italy to meet a friend and discovers a tiny golden orphic tablet; the secret to a life changing mystery, before returning home to write the texts which made him famous. The book is also the story of Lily an archaeologist who while working at a dig in Italy discovers a tiny golden tablet and her husband Jonah who arrives at the dig to find that Lily has disappeared. The story follows Plato and Jonah on their separate but parallel journeys across Greece and Italy and the plot includes Greek Mythology, the riots and unrest in modern Greece and the secretive group of university friends who might know more about Lily’s disappearance than they are pretending too. My only criticism is that the climax of the story is a little drawn out stretching over a number of chapters, although it leads to a satisfying conclusion.
The Orpheus Descent is out now in hardback from Hodder.

The Misbegotten By Katherine Webb

Although The Misbegotten is Katherine Webb’s fourth novel it is the first I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last because her storytelling skills are enchanting. The Misbegotten is the story of four people; Starling an abandoned child who grows up as neither servant nor lady, Alice the determined young woman who takes her in, Jonathan the grandson of Alice’s benefactor and Rachel who meets Starling and Jonathan twelve years after Alice’s mysterious disappearance which has left both of them devastated. Rachel has married to escape the drudgery of her life as a governess.  Through her husband she meets the Alleyn family and is employed as a companion to Jonathan to read to him and encourage his return to health and society. Through Starling and Jonathan she learns Alice’s story and the part they have played in her strange disappearance. Gradually she begins to piece together the puzzle and she discovers that her husband also has secrets. This is engrossing storytelling reminiscent of Kate Morton or Daphne du Maurier. The plot is full of twists and surprises and the characters intensely interesting if not always likeable.  The story takes place in and around Bath in the same era as many of Jane Austen’s classic works though it features a great deal more murk and grime, a fantastic gothic thriller. I highly recommend it. Thanks so much to for the opportunity to read this book before it is released in hardback, trade paperback and e-book in August. The Misbegotten is published by Orion.

Follow the link below to see my review along with the other reading panel members at lovereadinguk.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Dolls' Hospital Diaries

The Dolls' Hospital is a Dublin landmark recently saved from closure and now established in new premises at The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Many people don't realise the long history and truly fascinating stories that are associated with the store. This short and beautifully illustrated book is the perfect present for any doll enthusiast young or old. The History Press have put together a wonderful collection of stories and pictures giving an insight into the history of toys and the craft of doll and teddy bear making. The first Dolls' Hospital was established by Tommy and Freda Noyek in 1938 at a premises in Mary Street and after it closed in 1977 it was seven years before a new Dolls' Hospital was opened in 1984 by Chris and Melissa Nolan at South Great George's Street, it moved to the new premises in March 2012 and now also incorporates a Museum of Childhood. Some of the stories is this book will break your heart; tales of teddy bears destroyed by parents who wanted to replace a worn out old favourite or who felt that it was time for their child to grow up. Some of the stories will surprise you; Gertie Kiersey born in 1914 was asleep in her cot during the 1916 rising when a stray bullet entered the window and hit her mother's cherished French doll which fell off the shelf the doll was not damaged and Gertie wasn't hurt, now aged 99 she remains a customer of The Dolls' Hospital and still has her doll. The Dolls' Hospital and Museum is well worth a visit and this book provides the perfect guide. Perfect for Doll and Teddy Bear fans aged 9 to 90. 
Thanks so much to the History Press for sending me a copy of this book for review

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Language of Spells by Sarah Painter

This is a first novel from journalist Sarah Painter which I found utterly enchanting. The Language of Spells is the story of Gwen Harper, she has just inherited her great aunt's cottage in the picturesque Wiltshire village of Pendleford. She should be delighted, but Gwen left Pendleford thirteen years ago having been accused of witchcraft. Since then she has lived on the road, never staying anywhere for too long while her Mum has packed up and moved to Australia and her sister has settled to a life of seeming domestic bliss in nearby Bath. A caveat in the will means that she can't sell the house for at least six months so she must resign herself to staying put and dealing with the constant stream of visitors who assume that Gwen will be continuing to provide the same things that her great aunt did. You see Gwen comes from a family of witches and healers and although she has tried to deny her abilities all these years now that she's back in Pendleford they are all coming back to her. She must also deal with her attraction to old flame Cameron and she soon realises that someone is trying to use magic against her. I am always a sucker for stories with a hint of magic and mystery so this really intrigued me as soon as I read about the book through a twitter link. I had to have a copy and luckily I was able to access one. Unfortunately this book is currently only available as a e-book, therefore I had to read it on my computer so that was a bit of a pain, but that's just me. If you have an e-reader though download this as soon as you can it's less than a fiver and worth every penny and more.  
Thanks to Sarah and her publishers Carina for letting me get hold of a copy of the book through Net Galley. I don't have a kindle so had to sit at the PC to read this but the fact that I read it so quickly is testament to just how addictive it is.  

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

I have been wanting to read this book for so long. I first heard about it through Julie's facebook page and of course the American edition was published first. Now at last book lovers in the UK and Ireland will be able to get their hands on a copy as it is published by Pan on 20th June 2012. Calling Me Home is being compared to The Help and while there are similarities I feel that if anything Calling Me Home is a better book dealing as it does with the harsh realities of the racial divide in 1930s America. The plot of the novel was inspired by real events in the life of Julie's grandmother; who fell in love with a black man when she was a teenager only to have their families separate them. Julie also discovered that her father's home town had a sign warning black people to be gone before sundown. The novel features two strong female characters Dorrie Curtis a feisty black hairdresser raising a family alone and afraid to let the new man in her life get too close and Miss Isabelle her rather cantankerous client a ninety year old lady living alone, They make unlikely friends but over the years that is what they have become, so when Miss Isabelle needs someone to drive her from Texas back to Kentucky for a funeral it is to Dorrie that she turns. Over the course of their journey Isabelle reveals the story of her youth, her passionate love for a young black man and how dangerous it was it that time of bigotry, hatred and fear. I don't want to give away too much of Isabelle's story suffice to say there is love, there is heartbreak and there is finally peace. This fantastic story is told in such an elegant and talented writing style, Julie Kibler is a born storyteller. Don't let this one pass you by.
Thanks to Sophie Orme from Mantle Books at Pan Macmillan for sending me a proof copy of the book

Friday, June 7, 2013

In the Postbox

I'll hopefully be giving the post man a spring in his step over the coming months because as I am now closed to new requests I'll be getting a lot less book post but before I closet myself away to read all my lovely books here is a sneak peak at some of the books I'll be reading this summer, which have recently arrived.

I was lucky enough to win two competitions recently with Two Roads Books who publish Z and Hodder who publish My Life in Black and White, both books came today and both look gorgeous and fascinating.

I have also received more review copies and only after taking these photos I realised I hadn't included everything. 

This pic includes a good mixture of the books I have received with Historical Fiction  such as My Notorious Life by Madame X and Fantasy such as The Bone Season but also some of the kids books I will be reviewing for my other blog including The Rithmatist and The Oathbreaker's Shadow. I have forgotten to include some more prizes I won recently which I hope to review at some point Carsten Jensen's We The Drowned, Peter Adolphsen's Machine, Going Back by Rachael English. I have also received a review copy of a historical crime novel which I'm very excited about Irregulars by Kevin McCarthy 

Finally here is the rest of the book  post I have received since I last did an update like this so this pile includes some of my current  and very recent reads, also some I sneakily bought and borrowed even though I don't really need any more books, but I guess when it comes to books I am a walkover.

Let me know if you are reading any of the same books I am. Thanks for following and happy reading.

Some News

I have been quiet lately and that's for a number of reasons. I am working on a novel, reviewing for and and very involved with my book club which meets fortnightly and my writing group The Saltwater Scribblers which meets weekly. I also have a home, a family and a part time job so I keep quite busy. I have been promising some changes to the blog for a while now and one of those changes is that I will no longer be accepting kids books for review on The Madwoman in the Attic. This blog will in future be dedicated solely to historical fiction and non-fiction, gothic, mystery, classics and fantasy with the occasional crime and contemporary novel thrown into the mix. But what about the children's books you ask? Well I have started a new venture with my two lovely friends Lisa C and Mara who are also involved with The Saltwater Scribblers and we have just begun our blogging journey at This will be a regular blog about writing, kids books, education, media and other things that interest and or anger us. I already have a huge pile of books to review for the new blog check it out.

I will be kept pretty busy as the resident Historical Fiction, ghosts, paranormal and parenting expert.  But don't worry I won't be abandoning this blog. I will be writing posts about my writing process and reviewing plenty of books over the summer. However due to the unprecedented number of books I have received for review for which I am very grateful; (I will uplaod pics of my book post soon.) I am closing to new requests until at least the end of the summer. I will be trying to avoid facebook and twitter and may therefore be a bit behind the times in books news but I simply have to get through the stacks of book so many kind authors and publishers have sent my way. I will also be doing some giveaways to pass on duplicates and books which I simply won't have the time to read or which don't fit with the character of the blog.
Thanks so much for your support and happy reading.