Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Burning by Rebecca Fernfield - Review

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am sharing my review of Burning by Rebecca Fernfield. Burning is the first book in the Dark Powers Rising trilogy and was released yesterday as well as book two in the series, Primitive. 

Burning is a YA dystopian story which caught my attention as I haven't read a YA dystopian in some time and I thoroughly enjoy the genre, What also caught my eye was that it was set in England. I've been on the lookout for more England based YA that isn't contemporary, so was pleased to pick this up. 

The main characters we follow are Edie Fletcher and her family. Edie is a very independent and impulsive 17 year old who is just trying to help her family and others survive in the new world after the disease has ravaged the population. She does things she's not supposed to like any other teenager as she feels she knows better, but she does them for the right reasons as she has a good heart. Pascha is a typical little brother who gets under the feet and is generally irritating to his older sister, but in reality is just a good boy. 

Throughout the book there is a constant feeling of unease and that there is always a threat hanging over everyone. It made for quite an uncomfortable yet compelling read. I feel this is the closest to a "real" dystopian story that I have ever read and the fact that it could happen makes it all the more scary. It shows how different people cope in these situations, some become strong and lead others in the best way to work together and survive, others become followers and need other people to deal with things for them and some people use it as a way to gain power and control others in the most sinister and vicious way. 

The story is very well written and the ending was incredibly intense. I found myself yelling at a particular character because of how angry and terrified I was of him. 

I really enjoyed Burning and I'm glad Primitive is already out as I will be going straight on to read that! 

I gave this book 5 stars

To get your own copy of Burning click here

To get your own copy of Primitive click here

About The Author

British author, Rebecca Fernfield, is a lapsed medievalist who spends her days plotting the overthrow of evil regimes and devising intricate plans to rescue their victims. 

She lives among the flatlands of the Humber estuary where Vikings and Saxons once fought and where, sometimes, on foggy mornings, you can still hear the echoes of clashing swords. 

She is the author of the series Dark Powers Rising which explores the experience of young men and women at the hands of extremist criminal gangs, intent on carving out power in a post-apocalyptic world.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski - Blog Tour Review

I've been waiting patiently and finally the day has come when I can share my review of Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski! Today marks the turn of Life Of A Nerdish Mum on the blog tour for this amazing book. 

Six Stories

The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a "chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty"

My Review

Another amazing 5 star read from Orenda Books. I swear Karen has a golden touch when picking out books to publish! 

Six Stories is an absolute breath of fresh air in the crime genre with an incredibly modern and unique way of presenting a story. The story is told in the form of pod casts that cover six interviews with people involved with the murder of a teenager twenty years previously. 

The writing is beautiful and easily draws you in, making you feel like you are listening to the pod casts as they are being broadcast - in fact this is the first book that I've ever wished I could listen to in audio because I think it would be perfect. The interviews are personal and are at times uncomfortable both from the person being interviewed and the reader. The way the story unfolds from different perspectives is so smoothly done and I was kept fully immersed the entire time I was reading. 

Matt Wesolowski has really captured the complex relationships of teenagers as well as their thoughts and feelings. Each character, both likeable and un-likeable are all extremely well fleshed out and believable. Scott King I found fascinating and his narration throughout the book really added to the atmosphere instead of disturbing it, he also added important information without feeling like it was being tagged on or info-dumped. It was skillfully done and I really enjoyed the whole experience. 

Scarclaw Fell, the site of the murder is a character completely in it's own right with its overpowering presence and beauty, Matt Wesolowski describes Scarclaw Fell in such a way that you can picture yourself within it and feel it around you as you are reading with the trees looming over you. 

Overall an excellent read and one I think everyone needs to go out and try as it's something so new and exciting, but with a theme that's recognisable and comfortable. 

I gave Six Stories 5 stars. 

About The Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. 

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and US anthologies.

Wesolowski's debut novella ‘The Black Land‘ a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 by Blood Bound Books and his latest horror novella set in the forests of Sweden is available in 'Dimension 6' magazine through Coeur De Lion Publishing.

Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at 'Bloody Scotland'; Crime Writing Festival 2015, his subsequent debut crime novel 'Six Stories' will be available through Orenda Books in the spring of 2017

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour stops

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Watching You by Joyce Schneider - Cover Spotlight

Yesterday the next book by J. A. Schneider went up for pre order (here) and I'm excited to give a peek at the cover as well as announce that I will be on the blog tour for the book release! Watching You will be published on the 25th of April 2017.

The cover is absolutely stunning and it really gives off the feeling of fear which matches perfectly with the synopsis below. It also follows in how perfect each of the Kerri Blasco book covers have been so far which is really good to see. 

About Watching You...

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman - even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life. 

How absolutely amazing does that sound? I was part of the last blog tour for Her Last Breath and I shared my review of that as well as a wonderful Q and A with the author, if you'd like to go check that out, you can right here. As part of this blog tour I will be sharing my review on the 26th of April, so make sure you pop back then to see what I thought. 

About The Author

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature - wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody - Blog Tour Review

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am part of the blog tour for The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody and I am sharing my review of the book. 

The Place That Never Existed

For Paul and Debbie it was meant to be the happiest time of their lives – a small village wedding in front of their family and friends, followed by a quiet honeymoon in Devon. Not everyone was happy to see them together. Someone from the past was intent on ending their marriage before it had really started. Now, supposedly away from it all in a picturesque log cabin, Paul and Debbie find themselves in the midst of mysterious happenings. Unexplained disappearances with people turning up dead, and all of it centred on the site of an horrific murder. A place the locals wish was a place that never existed. 

My Review

The writing in The Place That Never Existed is beautiful, however I did struggle with it at first as it's unlike anything I've read before, but once you get into the rhythm then it's so very enjoyable and well written. I found myself picking out lines to remember because of how well constructed they were and how much of an impact they had on me while reading. He also uses comedy and mentions of popular culture really well to lighten the tone at times.  

Throughout the book I was chilled to the bone as the overall feel of the book was so very creepy and I never knew what was going on. Jim Ody weaves a tale of suspense and then the closer to the end it gets, the threads all get tighter and come together for the ending which was completely unexpected. 

I really liked the characters of Debbie and Paul and I enjoyed their relationship. It was nice to see what they thought of each other through their thoughts and the fun that they had together. I always find it refreshing to see a couple together in thrillers and crime books. 

There's very little I can say about the story without giving anything away, but it is extremely clever and well thought out and is full of surprises that I really didn't expect. 

Whatever your expectations of The Place That Never Existed are, just take them and throw them out the window as it'll be like nothing you could have expected. If you want to check out a new author this year, definitely check out Jim Ody. 

About The Author 

Jim Ody appeared on Getting To Know... earlier this year so for more information about him, go check that out here.

As a child Jim wanted to be a truck driver - more specifically Kris Kristofferson in the movie 'Convoy', however somehow this never happened, nor did he ever smuggle moonshine in Hazzard County, find treasure with his buddies in the Goondocks, or hunt sharks on Amity Island. He did win ‘The Spirit Of Judo’ award as a seven-year-old, and have published his design of a ‘Dog-Walking Machine’ in an English text book at the age of ten; so every cloud and all of that…

Jim has had poems and articles published on a number of websites, and for eight years, was a weekly music reviewer for a popular music website where he got to meet bands and see free gigs.

Jim has published two books 'Lost Connections' and 'The Place That Never Existed', and had his short story, 'The Moth In The Jar' selected and published in the charity anthology 'Dark Minds'.

Jim lives with his wife and three children in Swindon, Wiltshire, and is currently writing his next novel 'A Cold Retreat' (due out in summer 2017); and more than likely eating chocolate. And watching football.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour

Monday, 6 March 2017

The Essential Kafka by Franz Kafka - Review

Slowly but surely I am getting back into the routine of blogging and I am making a dent on the reviews that I need to catch up on. Another buddy read that we finished all the way back in October 2016 was The Essential Kafka by Franz Kafka. 

The Essential Kafka

A collection of Franz Kafka's classic works. Includes: The Castle; The Trial; Metamorphosis and Other Stories

My Review

I'll start by saying the particular cover we got on this books (The Wordsworth Classics version) was absolutely terrifying and as I had no idea what any of Kafka's stories were about, I didn't know what it was in reference to and I had all sorts of horrendous thoughts about what it could be. 

I'm going to be honest and say I was particularly disappointed in this book overall as I'd heard such wonderful things about Kafka's work but I really didn't think most of the stories were very good at all. The two that stood out to me were Metamorphosis and In The Penal Colony. 

I found both The Trial and The Castle felt unbearably long and rambling. I understood the concept but I thought it was poorly executed. Josef K from The Trial bumbles around trying to figure things out but to me gets tied up and obsessing over the most random things that should have no bearing on what is happening, but turn out to be pivotal in the story. The same happens in The Castle in which K bumbles around trying to figure out how to get to the castle and for some reason marries a bar wench whom he falls in and out of love with at the drop of a hat. What makes The Castle worse than The Trial though is that is is unfinished, it literally stops mid sentence. There is no conclusion so everything you had slogged through reading to that point was, well pointless. 

Metamorphosis was enjoyable though it had it's own problems. The main problem being that if I woke up one morning as a giant cockroach, then I think I would have more of a reaction that wondering how I'm going to get myself out of bed! Also I hope if I ever did wake up as a cockroach one day, that my family would treat me much better than Gregor's did. 

In The Penal Colony was definitely my favourite out of all the short stories in this book. The detail that is gone into by the officer and the passion that he describes the execution device is incredible and the thought that has gone into it is kind of terrifying. 

Overall sadly very disappointed with Kafka, but I can now at least say I've read him.

About The Author

Franz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.

His stories include The Metamorphosis (1912) and In the Penal Colony (1914), while his novels are The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927).

Kafka's first language was German, but he was also fluent in Czech. Later, Kafka acquired some knowledge of French language and culture; one of his favorite authors was Flaubert.

Kafka first studied chemistry at the Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague, but switched after two weeks to law. This offered a range of career possibilities, which pleased his father, and required a longer course of study that gave Kafka time to take classes in German studies and art history. At the university, he joined a student club, named Lese- und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten, which organized literary events, readings and other activities. In the end of his first year of studies, he met Max Brod, who would become a close friend of his throughout his life, together with the journalist Felix Weltsch, who also studied law. Kafka obtained the degree of Doctor of Law on 18 June 1906 and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts.

Kafka's writing attracted little attention until after his death. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories and never finished any of his novels, unless "The Metamorphosis" is considered a (short) novel. Prior to his death, Kafka wrote to his friend and literary executor Max Brod: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread." Brod overrode Kafka's wishes, believing that Kafka had given these directions to him specifically because Kafka knew he would not honor them—Brod had told him as much. Brod, in fact, would oversee the publication of most of Kafka's work in his possession, which soon began to attract attention and high critical regard.

Max Brod encountered significant difficulty in compiling Kafka's notebooks into any chronological order as Kafka was known to start writing in the middle of notebooks, from the last towards the first, etc.

All of Kafka's published works, except several letters he wrote in Czech to Milena Jesensk√°, were written in German.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne - Review

I cannot emphasise how much I am enjoying having a buddy reader and working our way through classics that I may never have made the time to get around to reading! We read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne all the way back at the very beginning of November! 

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

An American frigate, tracking down a ship-sinking monster, faces not a living creature but an incredible invention -- a fantastic submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo. Suddenly a devastating explosion leaves just three survivors who find themselves prisoners in Nemo's death ship on an underwater odyssey around the world, as Captain Nemo -- one of the most horrible villains ever created -- takes his revenge out on society. This novel, written in 1870, foretells with uncanny accuracy the inventions and advanced technology of the 20th century, and has become a literary stepping-stone for generations of science-fiction writers.

My Review

I completely and utterly fell in love with this book. To me this is exactly what an adventure book should be like. There are pirates and mystery and hidden caves. 

I have to disagree with the synopsis stating that Captain Nemo is one of the most horrible villains as I have to say I really related to him and I'm certainly not a villain! Yes he has killed people, usually only when they are attacking him and his ship. To be able to go so completely off the grid and survive off the land, or in this case the sea and to find hidden wonders that no one else has ever seen sounds absolutely wonderful! To be so intelligent and continue your learning indefinitely within your own personal library, I'd imagine that quite a few people would enjoy this. 

Professor Aronnax and his personal servant Conseil have an extremely strong bond and have a mutual respect that is good to see. Ned Land though to me is another far more interesting character as he is a rugged adventurer from Canada who has seen the world and needs to be out there to really live. He struggles with captivity and suffers from cabin fever which you can feel through the excellent writing. 

There is a lot of scientific, nautical and geographical language used throughout the book and a lot of classification of sea life is done, but this did not take away any enjoyment for me as I enjoyed searching online what things meant when I didn't understand and learning, I enjoyed the learning. 

Hopefully I will have time in the future to come back and re read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea so I can revisit Captain Nemo and enter his exciting underwater world. 

About The Author

Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the genre of science-fiction. He is best known for his novels Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). 

Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated author of all time, behind Disney Productions and Agatha Christie. His prominent novels have been made into films. Verne, along with H. G. Wells, is often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction".