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My name is Cara and I am a book lover through and through! I do all things books at Appleseed Bookshop. I read, review, blog and am a published alt model. I also review for We Love This Book, Things and Ink and Starburst Magazine. Contact me if you would like a proof read and reviewed at thetattooedbook@yahoo.co.uk or follow me on twitter at twitter.com/thetattooedbook

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

As Jeevan attempts to resuscitate the actor he was moments ago watching play the lead in King Lear, the pandemic is already spreading. He fails to bring the well know actor, Arthur Leander back to life and by the time he leaves the venue his girlfriend is long gone. As he begins his wintery walk home he receives the call from his doctor friend, warning him to get out of town, that an incredibly contagious and fast acting flu is spreading fast.

When the Georgian Flu broke out it killed ninety nine percent of the people it infected and twenty years later the world is a different place. A girl that played one of the King's daughters in that same production is now part of the Travelling Symphony. A band of actors, actresses and musicians that have been together for years. They stay on the move, usually welcomed for a couple of days here and there in the tiny congregations of people that have slowly formed. Some are full of thieves, killers or religious cults but some are just like them, simply trying to get by and make some sort of life for themselves in the wreckage of a devastated world.

Opening with scenes from King Lear, Station 11 instantly introduces the character of Arthur and although he may not be considered the main character in himself, he is the man that connects all the survivors you meet and therefore weaves the tale together. From these first you pages you are guided from a beautiful wintry wonderland into the breakdown of life as we know it. As Jeevan finds out about the seriousness of the outbreak before most people you are not privy to the sudden madness you are often exposed to in many dystopian novels but a quietly understated and isolated panic that is just as unnerving. Especially when he's filling his trolley with food repeatedly,wondering who to warn and who to stay away from. This novel never breaks into the 'panic tropes' of the genre, it concentrates on the first couple of days of the outbreak and then the survivors twenty years later. Station 11 is an intelligent and haunting look at relationships, memories and what drives us all. It's dark and disturbing, just as a story such as this would have to be but in more tender ways than you might expect, for example by describing a devastating gunshot rather than a description of the death itself.

Overall Station 11 is an incredible novel that has you dying for more when you finish the last page. Clever twists, turns and connections left  me grinning in appreciation and I can easily see the the television or movie rights being nabbed up for it very soon (if they haven't already). Station 11 is a must read for 2014 and I just hope there's more coming from Emily St. John Mandel soon.

Buy Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel from Amazon here.

Buy Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel from Hive here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

God is Dead #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa and Di Amorim

The world is being ravaged by eruptions, floods, sandstorms and freezing temperatures, around the globe hundreds of thousands of people are dying but no one is sure why. Two weeks after these devastating natural events start, on May 17th 2015 AD Zeus visits Earth and unimpressed with the progression of man (or woman) he decides to return for good.

Two months on and the world is in an even greater mess as it is not only Zeus who has decided to return and take over Earth but so have a number of other gods including Thor, Odin, Horus, Anubis and many more. At first they agree to territories but soon these boundaries are broken and war breaks out among the gods.

Meanwhile, a group of scientists gather together, hidden underground to discuss how science can battle the gods and save Earth from domination. As the historical gods battle each other the scientists decide it's time to create their own god, one they can control.

God is Dead Volume 1 brings together issues 1-6 of this ongoing series and it really is one hell of a start. Gods, monsters, demons and scientists are thrown together in this great twist on mythical fantasy, making gripping, non-stop action. What you also cannot fail to miss is just how beautifully drawn it is, packed with detail and a real joy to the eyeballs. The end of this volume leaves the story wide open and there are obviously a world of different directions that God is Dead could follow but wherever it's going I'm looking forward to following it.

Buy God is Dead #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa and Di Amorim from Amazon here.

Buy God is Dead #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa and Di Amorim from Hive here.

Buy God is Dead #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa and Di Amorim from Forbidden Planet here.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl

When Mia Dennette goes missing it's not her boyfriend or her family that raises the alarm but her colleagues. Gabe's the detective on the case and he can't help but find the Dennett's family relationships strange. Mia's sister doesn't seem too concerned and her Father insists she's just run off with a man or out causing trouble. It's only Eve, her mother, who seems truly shaken, agreeing that Mia was a troubled teenager but that she's grown out of awkward stage and loved her job too much to up and leave without warning.

It's just another job for Colin, all until he sees her that evening through the window of her apartment. He'd done a number of different crimes to raise money for his mother's medical bills and medicine but this was the first time he's agreed to kidnap anyone. When the day comes he approaches her at the bar, they drink and talk and he convinces her to come back to his. He turns down her advances at his home and things soon turn nasty and she knows it' not going to end well. But as she's thrown into his truck and Colin drives to the handover point he can't help but wonder what will happen to her. He knows the people he's handing her over to are anything but kind. Then he thinks of the thirty years in prison he could face and as the turning he needs to take comes up, he decides to carry one driving. He knows where they can hide for awhile, he needs to think things through.

The Good Girl is a gripping psychological thriller written in two different periods of time and from a number of different people's perspectives including Colin, Gabe, Eve and at one point Mia herself. Although it couldn't really be described as fast paced, there is something about Kubica's tender style of writing that keeps you completely engrossed, desperate to read just one more of the brief chapters.Just when you think the story has unfurled and the story is told, she manages to also squeeze in one last twist to make the finish superbly satisfying.

Buy The Good Girl by Mary Kubica from Amazon here.

Buy The Good Girl by Mary Kubica from Hive here.

Buy The Good Girl by Mary Kubica from Book Depository here.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Hild by Nicola Griffith Q&A

Hild, Hardback book 

Author Nicola Griffith begins her Light of the World Trilogy with Hild, a novel set in seventeenth century Britain that follows a young girl as she tred through the dangerous world of Edwin, King of Northumbria. As her abilities to predict the future grow she becomes both a valuable asset and a powerful weapon.
Thanks to Emily at Little Brown, I was able to put a few questions to Nicola and ask her more about the world of Hild:

When did you first hear of the true life character of Hild and did you instantly want to write about her?

I was in my early twenties, living what mostly felt like a good life, but could occasionally be very hard, in Hull. And one day I felt overstretched--like butter scraped too thin over bread, as Tolkien might say--and just had to get away. I hiked north, up the Yorkshire coast, and came to Whitby and the great gothic ruins of the abbey on top of the cliff. Stepping over the threshold of that ruin changed my life. Turned me inside out like a sock. It's difficult to describe it. I'd always been interested in history, always played What If, always loved the ruined places of the past. But that time, that place... It wrenched my world off its axis. History became real.

Looking back now I realise it wasn't long after that that I started to write. I was writing about the future then--science fiction--but it's all connected*. Anyway, that's where I first became aware of Hild--or St Hilda, the woman who founded the abbey and in 664 CE hosted and facilitated the famous Synod in which Roman Christianity, not the Celtic flavour from Ionia, won the day. It changed the course of history.

But who was Hild? All I could find was a brief mention in the Venerable Bede's History of the English Church and People. She trained five bishops. She was present, responsible in some ways, for the creation of the very first written Old English poem. She was a counsellor to princes and kings and is revered even now, fourteen hundred years later, as a patron saint of culture and learning.

But there were no biographies, no hagiographies, no scholarly anthologies. Nothing. I had no idea how a woman in what used to be called the Dark Ages, a woman born in an illiterate culture where kings were petty warlords and might was right, ended up midwiving English literature and changing the world. The more I learnt over the years about how impossible that was, the more I wanted to know how she did it. I wrote this book to find out. 

Being the first in a trilogy have you already got in mind how the series will come to and end?

I know the last line of the last book. I've known it since I got about a third of the way through the first. But just because I know the end point doesn't mean I know exactly how I'll get there.

I'm hoping there will only be three!

Having said that, there are some points in her life we do know from history--and I'll use one of them to end the second novel.

Do you have any strict writing regimes that help you hit your targets?

No. There are weeks at a time when I don't write fiction: I research, I write to academics, I write essays, I think. But when I'm really rocking and rolling on a novel I work hard, I'm focused. I know what scene or scenes I want to write that day and I write them; which means some days are longer, some days more difficult, than others.

But I love to write, absolutely love it. When it's going well, there's nothing else like it in the world.

Hild has received some incredible reviews from historians, fantasy authors, crime authors and many others, have you received anything that's astounded you more than others?

What's gratified me most is hearing from readers how real it all felt. How reaching the end they felt stunned, sometimes bereft. A writer I've never met (but now want to), Robin Sloan, put it best when he said that after finishing he went around in a daze with a Hild hangover, seeing the world through her eyes, thinking in her terms. Just before I began Hild I wrote a manifesto, a statement of intent or perhaps dagger in the table: "I want to write a whole novel that invades you. I want to control what you think and feel, to put you right there, right then... I want to give you a life you've never had and change the one you live... to run my software on your hardware."

The book is nearly 600 pages long, yet some readers have already read it three times because they love being with Hild in her world. That, to me, is as good as any prize. That is the prize.

Have you been able to do any other writing while penning the Hild series or is it easier to concentrate on one story line?

I do other stuff. Hild's too heady undiluted. So I've written a couple of short stories, some essays, and of course done much miscellany like this Q&A :)

Female leads in historical novels are quite unusual unless they are queens or princesses, do you think it's important to highlight women's roles in this period of time?

Most of the women--and men--we've heard about mattered in their day. Royals have always been seen as more important than hoi polloi. As writers, our interest is generally snagged by what we read, and historians have always chronicled those regarded as important, even if it was just because they paid the chronicler's keep.

We know that in some eras royal women had more agency than commoners, more freedom of movement and more power. It's more interesting, frankly, to write about people who do rather than those who are done to.

Also, if someone like Hild was possible in the past, she's possible now. If you change what we see as possible, we change what might be possible in the future. We change the world.

If you could describe Hild in five words, what would they be?

Extraordinary. Stubborn. Alive. Imperfect. Human.

* At the most fundamental level, I write to explore the world, to find out. Sometimes to change the world. It doesn't matter to me if it's the future (Ammonite, Slow River), the present (The Blue Place, Stay, Always) or the past (Hild).

Buy Hild by Nicola Griffith from Amazon here.

Buy Hild by Nicola Griffith from Hive here.

Buy Hild by Nicola Griffith from The Book Depository here.

Friday, 25 July 2014

I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin

I Was the Cat

When Alison receives an unexpected offer of work she's warned not be afraid of her employer's looks. That gets the alarm bells ringing but her breaking news blog just isn't paying the bills so she goes along to the first meeting, against her best friends advice. Alison knows she's being commissioned to writing a memoir so she expects long, in-depth discussions with her latest client. What she doesn't expect is for him to be a talking cat.

Burma is on the 9th of his lives and has decided it's time for the world to know about his existence. He's been there at the forefront of wars, revolutions and world changing historical events over and over. He's been the driving force behind some of the greatest men and women in history but why? Because all he's ever wanted is to take over the world.

I knew nothing about this surreal tale of a power hungry feline but the premise sounded bonkers enough to intrigue me. Hoping for something good but not expecting much, I couldn't have ended up enjoying it more. Burma's hiding some massive secrets from Alison and even thought he's technically a 'baddie' you can't help but find his attempts at world domination endearing....and that's how cats will take over the world! I won't give away any more of his exploits but if you fancy something truly unique then I Was the Cat is it.

To buy I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin from Amazon click here

To buy I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin from Forbidden Planet click here

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

The Wives of Los Alamos

They were called together from across the world, they were from London, Paris and all over the USA. At an average age of 25 they were young and just starting families but they upped sticks and followed their husbands. Dressed in their finest they landed in their new military homes, run down from the travel and beaten in the face by the dust that welcomed them. Some seemed to know more than others and they were aware there were words they could not say, censoring details of their life in coversations with their extended families that they left behind. None of the women knew it all though, then the bomb dropped and they realised what their husbands and friends had been working to create.

Written from a group perspective, this touching, true account of the women of Los Alamos (where the atomic bomb was created) gives an important insight into the secretive world they lived. Quietly supportive they all knew important, war related work was being carried out so they dug into their new lives, made friends and created new families. A large percentage of this book is based around their lives before the bomb, how they settled into the area and the secrecy they were placed under. This is fascinating but it is the chapters after the bomb has been dropped that truly grab the readers attention. Families are torn between pride and shame, the husbands are unsure if they should be holding their heads high or hiding away from the world. This book takes no view point and places no blame, it simply gives a snapshot into the family repercussions of a world changing discovery. A powerful and unusual read, I found The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit is an engaging and thought provoking book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Buy The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit from Amazon here.

Buy The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit from The Book Depository here.

Buy The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit from Hive here.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt

The List of My Desires

Jocelyne is content with her life, comfortable with her rounded body and even though they've been through some tough times, is happy with her husband. She runs a small sewing shop in a little French town and due to the lack of customers ends up spending a significant amount of time on her sewing blog, watching it's popularity increase with every passing day.

One lunchtime she chats with the twin sisters that run the beauty salon next door as they pick their lottery numbers, a habit that verges on addiction. As they discuss what they would do with the money if they won, they eventually convince Jocelyne to buy a ticket.

When she hears the winner is a local woman, she knows it her but instead of filling her with joy, it fills her with panic. She goes and collects her cheque in secret and is warned that her amazing good fortune comes with a price. People will change, her loved ones will see her differently, her children will now see a parent with money instead of their mother and she's warned divorces are common after big wins. She knows all the things her husband would want and she makes lists range from her largest spends to what she really needs. Things are going so well though, her husband is more attentive than ever, the blog is taking off and even the shop is busy so she decides not to cash the cheque but before she knows it the choice is out of her hands.

The synopsis of this novel may sound slightly twee and you may be mistaken that this would fall into the category of chic-lit but you'd be very wrong. The List of my Desires is a beautifully literary novel that captures both a woman in turmoil and a woman scorned. Jocelyn has put energy into accepting her life, we can all dream of more but she's made the decision to accept it. Knowing her husband is not as accepting she fears her life changing just when she's come to understand it and when it does, it breaks her. Poignant, articulate and touching, The List of my Desires is a great little book that is perfect to be devoured in one sitting.

Buy The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt from Amazon here

Buy The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt from Hive here