Tag: Books: First Reads


Review: Black Dog Summer

Posted 6 February, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Black Dog Summer
By: Miranda Sherry
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster CA for providing me an ARC of this novel to read. I haven’t read much African literature/books set in Africa, so this book was a bit outside of my comfort zone in that sense, but the premise of the novel was intriguing nonetheless. This book will be available on 10 February 2015.

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Review: Walking on Trampolines

Posted 2 February, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Walking on Trampolines
By: Frances Whiting
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

“Tallulah de Longland,” she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgment. “That,” she announced, “is a serious glamorgeous name.”

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable…

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.

I knew nothing about this book until I received a ARC courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA 😛 It’s been out for a few years in Australia, but it’s only being released over here now. I don’t read nearly enough from Australian authors, I think, so I was quite looking forward to reading it. This book will be available in North America on 03 February 2015.

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Review: Russian Tattoo

Posted 26 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Russian Tattoo
By: Elena Gorokhova
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

In A Mountain of Crumbs Elena Gorokhova describes coming of age behind the Iron Curtain and leaving her mother and her Motherland for a new life in the United States. Now, in Russian Tattoo, Elena learns that the journey of an immigrant is filled with everyday mistakes, small humiliations, and a loss of dignity. Cultural disorientation comes in the form of not knowing how to eat a hamburger, buy a pair of shoes, or catch a bus. But through perseverance and resilience, Elena gradually adapts to her new country. With the simultaneous birth of her daughter and the arrival of her Soviet mother, who comes to the US to help care for her granddaughter and stays for twenty-four years, it becomes the story of a unique balancing act and a family struggle.

Russian Tattoo is a poignant memoir of three generations of strong women with very different cultural values, all living under the same roof and battling for control. Themes of separation and loss, grief and struggle, and power and powerlessness run throughout this story of growing understanding and, finally, redemption. “Gorokhova writes about her life with a novelist’s gift,” says The New York Times, and her latest offering is filled with empathy, insight, and humor.

I read her first memoir, A Mountain of Crumbs (review) a few years ago and really enjoyed it. So naturally I was excited when I learned that she was coming out with another memoir, this time focusing on her life in North America. This book will be available on 6 January 2015.

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Review: The Deep

Posted 18 November, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Deep
By: Nick Cutter
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

A strange plague called the ’Gets is decimating humanity on a global scale. It causes people to forget—small things at first, like where they left their keys…then the not-so-small things like how to drive, or the letters of the alphabet. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily…and there is no cure. But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered—a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it’s up to a brave few to descend through the lightless fathoms in hopes of unraveling the mysteries lurking at those crushing depths…and perhaps to encounter an evil blacker than anything one could possibly imagine.

Part horror, part psychological nightmare, The Deep is a novel that fans of Stephen King and Clive Barker won’t want to miss—especially if you’re afraid of the dark.

I read Nick Cutter’s debut novel, The Troop (review), last year and really enjoyed it despite not being much of a reader in the horror genre (Also had the opportunity to ask the author a few questions!). So when the opportunity came around to read his latest novel, The Deep, I jumped at the chance. This book will be available on 13 January 2015.

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Review: The Fragile World

Posted 14 November, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Fragile World
By: Paula Treick DeBoard
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Harlequin Mira via GoodReads First Reads Programme

The Kaufmans have always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at a local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve-year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything. Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a freak accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief. The anguish of Daniel’s death is isolating, and it’s not long before this once perfect family find themselves falling apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong.

An emotionally charged novel, The Fragile World is a journey through America’s heartland and a family’s brightest and darkest moments, exploring the devastating pain of losing a child and the beauty of finding healing in unexpected ways.

Like any book, it was the premise that caught my attention. I suppose what especially caught my interest about this novel is the concept of how a family copes after such tragedy. Their tragedy is really a family’s nightmare (not just the parents’, I would argue). This book will be available on 28 October 2014.

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