I've disappeared a little bit recently - sorry! My last post might have helped to explain my mini disappearance though - the Curvy Kate competition one...well, we won!! We put a lot of time and effort into contacting (/spamming) all of our friends, family and distant acquaintances and forcing them to vote for us, so sorry if we spammed you, but thank you SO much to everyone who voted because it was totally worth it!! So after finding out last Friday that we'd won, we had to arrange our travel, accommodation and, most importantly, outfits! That's a whole other story, and one which I'll post about soon, but on Wednesday we travelled down to London for the UK Lingerie Awards and had the best time! (We met Danny from McFly eeeee!!)
Unfortunately, I got stuck in the UK weather disaster yesterday and my train journey took 4 hours longer than expected! Not to mention the fact that I'd started coming down with a cold on Tuesday, and it decided to hit properly yesterday :( I'm supposed to be going off to stay with some of my oldest friends in a cabin for the weekend tonight, but I've decided to delay my arrival till tomorrow morning to give myself a chance to recover a bit more and so there's less chance of them catching my illness!
So, after that life update, onto the book reviews! A little bit slow with them this month, and I'm actually cheating a little bit because I only finished the last one today but decided to include it anyway since I'm a few days late with the reviews!
Into The Fire by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue - 9/10 - This book is the second in The Ending series, the first of which, After The Ending I reviewed in July. I was offered an early release of this to review by the authors (thank you!) and was really excited by this as I'd loved the first one and couldn't wait for the sequel following the huge cliffhanger! It definitely lived up to my expectations and I really enjoyed it. Into The Fire delves more into the origins of the Virus from the first book, and I was really glad of this because I like to know why things have happened! We also finally get to see inside the Colony, find out a lot more about 'MG' and are introduced to some new characters. You begin to understand what the world has become with more than 90% of humanity gone and how it's realigning itself, and it's not a pretty picture. The only issue I had was that I'd managed to mix up a few characters in my head, such as which ones had been in Zoe's and Dani's groups, and it took me a little while to remember who was who and what their abilities were (but I probably should have just reread the first book again, so my fault!). Again, I'm now desperately awaiting the third book which is really annoying because I finished this one before it was even released!!
Freak of Nature by Julia Crane - 6/10 - That doesn't seem like a good rating, but I did enjoy this book. I tried to tell one of my friends the storyline, and it ended up sounding very strange, but believe me, it's more interesting than it sounds! Kaitlyn awakens to find herself as part robot, part human in a secret laboratory after ticking a box to say that her body could be donated to science if she died. She is expected to have no emotions or real thoughts of her own any more, but it soon becomes clear that she does. Trying to keep this secret from her makers while being trained to be the ultimate machine is more difficult than it seems, especially when she finds herself feeling things for Lucas that she doesn't understand. This was a nice easy read with a fairly straightforward storyline - there were no major plot twists and the story went ahead as I thought it would, hence the lower rating, as I prefer my stories to confuse me! But a good read overall, although probably more suited to younger readers.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter - 8/10 - This was our book club read for the month, but none of us actually managed to completely finish it! It's actually a collection of short stories though, so it wasn't a problem :) But it's a bit more difficult to talk about because of that! Angela Carter's stories are basically an inversion of well known fairy tales, twisting them cleverly so that they're barely recognisable. The Bloody Chamber itself was probably my favourite, telling the tale of a young girl whisked off by her new husband to his palace by the sea, where he leaves her alone on the first night with the set of keys but tells her to stay away from a specific area of one of the wings - of course she's going to go there! The tale then descends into a gruesome horror story (parts of it even reminded me of our first book club book, Rebecca). Every story though has hugely rich descriptions, which I discovered are best read aloud to truly savour the language (but that's the Classicist in me!). Some are really quite disturbing in their subject matter, but the impression left on you overall is a sense of female entrapment and leave you thinking - it was definitely a good one for book club discussion!
Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett - 7/10 - This book is a review copy from Net Galley so isn't available until the end of January. The summary got me interested with Sean running from something, which we assume to be a crime he has committed, across rural France. Avoiding the police, he dives into a wood and becomes ensnared in a trap. He is eventually rescued by two young women, daughters of a local farm, where he is cooped up in the barn to recover. The story flicks between the present at the farm, with his slow recovery and decision to stay and fix up their house, and the story back in London that has brought him there. There is a constant sense of foreboding in both tales, but the build up of tension was a little bit slow for me, enough that it took me a couple of weeks to get through it. But the ending was rewarding enough that I'm glad I stuck with it, as both stories hold more surprises than you could imagine. I would have given it a much lower rating were it not for the ending - I found the two women's characters a little bit flat throughout and mixed them up a few times to start with, and it was all a bit too slow then too fast, but I still enjoyed reading it and would like to read more from Simon Beckett in future.