On This Day – Virginia Woolf

Adeline Virginia Woolf (née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century.

Woolf began writing professionally in 1900, initially for the Times Literary Supplement with a journalistic piece about Haworth, home of theBrontë family.[18] Her first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 by her half-brother’s imprint, Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd. This novel was originally titled Melymbrosia, but Woolf repeatedly changed the draft. An earlier version of The Voyage Out has been reconstructed by Woolf scholar Louise DeSalvo and is now available to the public under the intended title. DeSalvo argues that many of the changes Woolf made in the text were in response to changes in her own life.

Woolf went on to publish novels and essays as a public intellectual to both critical and popular success. Much of her work was self-published through the Hogarth Press. She is seen as a major twentieth-century novelist and one of the foremost modernists.

Virginia_Woolf_signature.svg

[text from Wikipedia]

 

 

On This Day

image

Born on this day was, Edith Wharton.

I decided to read Ethan Frome over Christmas a few years ago because it’s small & didn’t take up much room in the luggage. Boy did I get a surprise. This is one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. The harsh brutality that is unremittingly in your face never lets you out of its grasp. I recommend it to everyone who wants a good weep and who wants to see their life isn’t so bad.

Five written by Ursula Archer [Review]

Five

Title: Five
Author: Ursula Archer
Publisher: St Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books
Date of Publication: 09 December 2014
Number of Pages: 336
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:
N47 46.605 E013 21.718. A dismembered hand
N47 48.022 E013 10.910 Two severed ears
N47 26.195 E013 12.523 A mutilated corpse

Review: WOW! I am so impressed with this book that I desperately need Archer to push for the second and third in this series to be released in English. Beatrice Kaspary is one of my new favourite women in fiction. She is a divorced mother of two children who is actively involved in one of the biggest cases of her career and while others around her might think she isn’t coping with all of the demands placed on her, it is clear in the writing, this is not the case. I think she is fantastic!

The characters in this book are all so familiar from the first page even though the reader has never met them. Bea and her police partner, Florin are identifiable as a well paired team and the only duo I can say they remind me of is Anya Lipska’s Janusz Kiszka and Natalie Kershaw. The reader is enveloped in the novel and it is incredibly hard to pull yourself out of the text to do anything else life demands.

It was also nice to not know who the murderer is and remain fooled right up to the big reveal. I made so many mistakes in guessing before the halfway point, I stopped trying.

Congratulations must also go to Jamie Lee Searle for the fantastic translation.

Recommended to anyone who likes mystery and crime novels. Five has a very nordic (think The Killing, Borgen) kind of feeling to it. The writing style is also very adaptable to a screenplay or series. Five is very much worth the read.

The Goddess and the Thief written by Essie Fox [Review]

The Goddess and the Thief

 

Title: The Goddess and the Thief
Author: Essie Fox
Publisher: Orion
Date of Publication: 20 November 2014
Number of Pages: 310
Genre: General Fiction

Rating: 2 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: Uprooted from her home in India, Alice is raised by her aunt, a spiritualist medium in Windsor. When the mysterious Mr Tilsbury enters their lives, Alice is drawn into a plot to steal the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond, claimed by the British Empire at the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars.

Said to be both blessed and cursed, the sacred Indian stone exerts its power over all who encounter it: a handsome deposed maharajah determined to claim his rightful throne, a man hell-bent on discovering the secrets of eternity, and a widowed queen who hopes the jewel can draw her husband’s spirit back. In the midst of all this madness, Alice must discover a way to regain control of her life and fate…

Review: I feel a terribly mean person to rate this book only two stars but I will be honest and say this has more to do with personal taste rather than any problems with the book. Essie Fox has written another unique novel, which is going to appeal to a wide range of readers. The story is fascinating, with the most interesting parts revolving around the mythology that permeates every page of the book. What feels lacking is the solidity of the remainder. I found myself unable to visualise the Windsor homes, or Windsor and I found it difficult to like, empathise or feel any connection with the characters. Alice was weak and, I hate to say it, stupid. Mercy was cold without any real reason until a brief history was provided far too late. Tilsbury was written to seem a creep and Fox did succeed in this, however, I was at no point convinced he should be given such an omniscient role. The Goddess and the Thief feels rushed. It feels well planned and well thought out but it hasn’t come together.

I think Fox’s work suffered in my reading because of both, my expectations and because of what I had read previously. It was impossible not to compare The Goddess and the Thief to Lynn Shepherd’s, The Pierced Heart, set during a very similar time frame and handled with more skill.

Sorry Essie.

In the Heart of the Dark Wood written by Billy Coffey [Review]

in the heart of the dark wood

Title: In the Heart of the Dark Wood
Author: Billy Coffey
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of Publication: 11 November 2014
Number of Pages: 377
Genre: Christian, General Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: A motherless girl hungry for hope . . . and the dream that could be leading her astray.

Review: Allie Granderson, 12 years old, and her best friend Zach go in search of her mother who disappeared during a tornado five hundred and forty three days ago. The first thing you learn about Allie is she’s independent, head strong and in some ways, older than her years.

It is actually quite difficult to write a review for this book because it so different from what I usually find myself reading and because it was nice. Nice is also an inadequate word because what In the Heart of the Dark Woods proves is that there are writers who can tell a story that is reliant on skill and talent rather than built on shocks and vulgarity. Do not misunderstand me, I also like these books but occasionally, it is a pleasure to step away from them.

The strength of the characters in this book and the imagery used to portray them are so stark and vivid. Coffey describes the desolation and the cold and the pains of the children’s bodies and all of the elements feel so real. There are moment in the book where I sighed aloud in frustration and disappointment as something went wrong for Allie and Zach.


I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to reset the reading button in their heart and soul.

There’s so much you can know and so much more you can’t and that’s why God has sharp edges. Hug Him anyway. A life with pain means more than a life without it.

The Pierced Heart written by Lynn Shepherd [Review]

the pierced heart

Title: The Pierced Heart
Author: Lynn Shepherd
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell – Delacorte Press
Date of Publication: 21 October 2014
Number of Pages: 256
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: The shadow of Bram Stoker’s Dracula looms large over the darkest mystery yet faced by Victorian detective Charles Maddox — as the acclaimed author of The Solitary House and A Fatal Likeness once again pays homage to a literary classic, in a chilling tale of superstition, dangerous science, and shocking secrets.

Review: Charles Maddox, still suffering from his experiences in Shepherd’s previous book, is on a train to Austria at the request of the Bodleian library in Oxford. While in London, the Great Exhibition is running in Hyde Park and soon, murdered women will start to appear, headless and heartless, in the streets.

Shepherd takes the reader on a tour of London and the Continent, drawing on elements of, this time, Dracula. The writing style, a negative challenge to some readers, for me, assists in focusing on where the text and the story is going. The flow of the prose is driven and powerful, every word and sentence forcefully leading the reader to the next paragraph, the next page. It almost leaves you breathless but at the same time, you want more and it is impossible to put the book down.

Thankfully, Shepherd has stayed true to the Stoker, Le Fanu-esque vampire, and has used traditional tropes of 19th century literature to convey mood and meaning. Shepherd has also incorporated medical science developments from the time as plausible explanations for some of the mythological factors.

I felt the conclusion was a little understated but in hindsight, I think it was perfect. I can’t wait to see what Lynn comes up with next.