Review: In A Land Of Paper Gods by Rebecca Mackenzie

paper gods

I requested a copy of this from bookbridgr, and the was kindly sent a copy by the publisher in return for an honest review.  I really wanted to love this book, and everything I’d heard made me think I would …  Firstly – gorgeous cover.  And it’s set in China.  And more than that, it’s set in a boarding school in China.  But unfortunately the story just did not ignite my interest.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why I didn’t love it.  The characters were quite interesting and quirky, but ultimately I felt  they were a group of silly girls.  The teachers were more intriguing, but their part is not huge.  I feel terrible for not connecting more emotionally with the undeniably tragic aspects of this story.  It should be a heart-wrenching story, but it left me feeling … blah.  For some reason I just felt no empathy for any of the characters and I didn’t really care what happened to them.

I did enjoy the setting – the mystical Chinese mountain was atmospheric and quite eery, but again, the setting did not play a big enough part in the story for me.  So unfortunately this one gets a thumbs down for me, and a rare 2 stars – I finished it, and I liked some aspects of it, but in the end it was just not my cup of tea.

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Review: The Deep by Nick Cutter

book review: the deep by nick cutter

Horror is not a genre I’d consider myself well-read in, so perhaps I’m not the best person to review this book.  I enjoy a good horror movie, and scare quite easily, but somehow when I read a horror novel I just don’t get it.  But as it is October, and I saw The Deep by Nick Cutter on bookbridgr, I decided to request it and give it a go.

On the surface (see what I did there?!) this book sounds right up my alley.  A horrible pandemic is quickly wiping out the population of the world and it seems the cure lies at the bottom of the ocean.  Like, the BOTTOM of the ocean.  You can’t go deeper.  Sounds groovy.  But then it all goes a bit weird … there are some truly gross scenes, but that’s different to scary scenes.  The scenes that were meant to be scary … well, I just found them kind of laughable.

I guess with horror, as with science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, the reader must suspend belief.  You have to believe what the author is telling you.  And with horror, I just can’t seem to do it.  I like my sci-fi weird and my magical realism kooky, but I like my horror to be believable.  To me, it’s only scary if I can picture this actually happening.  And I just couldn’t do that with this book.

Parts of this book reminded me of House of Leaves, and those parts were kind of creepy … the claustrophobic darkness, the endless tunnels.  But overall it was a disappointment for me.  I’m sure true horror fans will love this book.  It just was not my cup of tea.  A sad 2 stars.

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Delivery!

I was sent this one for review via bookbridgr and the publisher, Headline.

Books in my mailbox

Horror is not one of regular genres, but this one is about some weird virus thing that is wiping out the population – totally up my alley!  It sounds like a perfect scary October read and is published on 8 October 2015.  Watch out for a review coming soon!

Review: Gone by Rebecca Muddiman

Gone by Rebecca Muddiman
Published by Mulholland Books on 15 January 2015
Source:  ARC received for review via bookbridgr.com


Read more about the author here

The blurb:
250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. 11 years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems.



I requested an ARC of this book through bookbridgr.com as I was immediately intrigued by the plot.  I love a good mystery/crime/thriller and this one sounded right up my alley.  I had not heard of the author before, though I now know that this is Muddiman’s second novel. I was not disappointed and am excited to have found a great new (to me) British crime author!

I read Gone over three days.  If I’d had my way I would’ve read it one sitting, but I had the annoying inconvenient interruptions of my children’s birthdays and a christening at which I was to be Godmother.  Seriously, all I could think about during the christening was getting back home to finish off this book!  I was hooked and needed my next fix!

The plot has more twists and turns than the best roller coaster   Just when you think you have it figured out, Muddiman throws another spanner into the works.  Along with the main plot of confirming the identity of the dead girl and discovering what happened to her, there is an engaging side story involving DI Gardner (who doesn’t love a troubled policeman, right?!) which is interesting and satisfying.

The characters in Gone are perfect.  There is the deplorable, despicable one that you love to hate (and, indeed, made my skin crawl the moment he was introduced), the slightly clueless, seemingly harmless (or is he?!) bumbling one, a handsome, troubled policemen, feisty girls, desperate girls … all against a sleazy backdrop of drugs and violence – this book has it all.

I would highly recommend this to any reader who enjoys a good, well-written British crime story.  I feel this will be one of my favourite books of 2015!

Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Published by Tinder Press, 9 October 2014
First Published 2011
Copy received for review from the publisher via bookbridgr.com


Read more about the author:  Eowyn Ivey official site

Alaska, the 1920s.  Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before.  When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding – is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?




Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Sunday Times Bestseller



Set in the 1920s, this book is just about as far from the decadent, glamorous 1920s of my imagination as it is possible to get.  A retelling of an old Russian fairytale, this is spellbindingly atmospheric.  The descriptions of the bleakly beautiful Alaskan countryside are mesmerising, and the hard labour involved in working the land is vividly brought to life. The characters are so wonderfully drawn, with their own quirks and personalities, and I wanted to meet each and every one of them in real life!  My favourite character was the wonderful, no-nonsense Esther who comes bustling into Mabel’s life and opens her eyes to a whole new way of living.

Ivey’s writing throughout the book is poetic and beautiful.  She tackles the themes of grief and loss in a sensitive and realistic way, countering this with hope and love in many forms.  There is a subtle magical thread throughout the book, lifting the story with fairytale qualities from what could otherwise have been really sad and quite depressing.  But Ivey makes this a wonderful, uplifting and hopeful book that is well deserving of its Pulitzer Prize Finalist tag.  4 stars

This book will shortly be re-published with a gorgeous new cover (seen above) which I think matches the writing within gorgeously.

Review: Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary
Published by Headline on 28 August 2014
Copy received for review from the publisher via bookbridgr.com

From Goodreads:
Some secrets keep you safe, others will destroy you… 

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won’t share with anyone. 

But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women’s shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women’s husbands, who shouldn’t have been there, lying stabbed on the floor. 

As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin. 

Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed…



First of all, let it be known that I am a huge fan of the Crime Fiction drama.  If I could only read one genre for the rest of my life, I would probably choose Crime Fiction.  So it was with some excitement that I received this novel for review, the first in what will hopefully be a long and thrilling series by Sarah Hilary!

It is quite difficult to say much about this book without giving away the plot.  It is a gritty and cruel piece of fiction with a believable twist (take note Gone Girl fans!) that I did not see coming.  The women in the refuge are a sad and desperate group screaming out for your empathy.  DI Rome herself is a woman struggling to come to terms with a tragic past and at times I just wanted to give her a hug (though I’m not sure she would appreciate it!).   My one little niggle is something silly … it really annoys me when police officers go off on their own, putting themselves into situations you just know are not going to end well.  Don’t they ever learn?!

The book contains some fairly graphic and descriptively gruesome violent scenes, but this just adds to the grittiness of the novel.  Several different plot lines weave together to create an intriguing and memorable debut and I am waiting impatiently for the second instalment in this series.  Hurry up Sarah Hilary! A glowing 4 stars.