Publisher: Penguin Books

Waiting on Wednesday – The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan

June 6, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernanThe Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Series: Cormac Reilly #1
Published by Penguin Books on July 3, 2018
Pages: 400
Genres: Mystery
Format: Paperback
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It's been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he's never forgotten the two children she left behind...

When Aisling Conroy's boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget - until Jack's sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an 'accidental' overdose twenty years ago - of Jack and Maude's drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything...

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can't - or won't. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

About Dervla McTiernan

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel The Rúin sold in a six-way auction in Australia, and has since sold to the United States, the UK and Ireland, and Germany.

Dervla was born in County Cork, Ireland to a family of seven.

She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Law Society of Ireland, and practised as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children.

In 2015 she submitted a story for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto competition and was shortlisted. This gave her the confidence to complete the novel that would become The Rúin, which will be published in 2018 in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

She is represented by Tara Wynne, Curtis Brown Australia.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Book Review – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

November 9, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 6 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Published by Penguin Press on September 12th 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Everything I Never Told You

three-half-stars

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren -- an enigmatic artist and single mother -- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”

In Shaker Heights, Ohio, the residents believe themselves to live in a pseudo-bubble of perfection. The garbage trucks collect trash in alleys so as to not create an eyesore on the streets, their children are all raised to be productive members of society, and any hint of wrongdoing is always brushed off as an impossibility. Mia Warren, a “starving artist” single mother, and her teenage daughter Pearl move to this small town surrounded by an air of mystery, peaking the inquisitiveness of the town’s inhabitants. The duo has lived a nomadic existence since Pearl was born, but they find something in Shaker Heights that they hadn’t found before: a reason to stay. Pearl befriends the Richardson children, whose mother is actually their landlord, and their friendship to Pearl is something that she had never experienced before. Pearl and Mia’s presence, in turn, is a curiosity to the children, not having witnessed anything less than a perfect family before. The secrets of Mia and Pearl’s past and the underlying tension when a family tries to adopt a Chinese-American baby will inadvertently leave an unending change in this community.

Little Fires Everywhere opens with, well, little fires everywhere. Months after Mia and her daughter have moved to town, Mrs. Richardson wakes to find her house on fire, with small fires having been started on each of her children’s beds. Izzy, her youngest, has always been the rebel of the family and is the only one missing and is, therefore, the likely culprit. But no mystery is ever that simple, and figuring out what led up to it is the best part. Flashback to Mia and Pearl’s arrival in her VW Rabbit with their only possessions contained within, they breeze into town much like the obscure Vianne and her daughter, Anouk, breezed into that small French town in Chocolat. They’re looked upon as outsiders, but they quickly make themselves at home in this sequestered community. But when the McCulloughs decide to adopt a Chinese-American baby that was abandoned at a fire station, Mia Warren begins to involve herself in the spectacle for more reasons than one. The sole issue I had with this story was that the topic of race is clearly meant to shine a spotlight on the intricacies of the situation but ended up becoming too simplified in order to achieve an “end” to the storyline. This is also clearly meant to be the main storyline but it’s muddied by Mia’s own story, even when its inclusion was meant to show a reasoning behind her involvement.

Celeste Ng’s sophomore novel proves herself to be incredibly perceptive at bringing contemporary America to life. The foundation of her plot is based on simple legitimacy without the unnecessary addition of drama making her stories feel wholly genuine. Her stories never lack for complexity with Little Fires Everywhere tackling race, class, adoption, abortion in addition to the intricacies of motherhood and the everlasting weight of secrets. Contemporary has never been my favorite genre, but Ng makes it so incredibly appealing that I’m not sure I’ll ever stop seeking out her stories.

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Book Review – Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace

August 22, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

Book Review – Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel WallaceBig Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace
Published by Penguin Books on October 1st 1998
Pages: 208
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

He could outrun anybody, and he never missed a day of school. He saved lives, tamed giants. Animals loved him. People loved him. Women loved hi (and he loved them back). And he knew more jokes than any man alive.

Now, as he lies dying, Edward Bloom can't seem to stop telling jokes -or the tall tales that have made him, in his son's eyes, an extraordinary man. Big Fish is the story of this man's life, told as a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts his son, William, knows. Through these tales -hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous- William begins to understand his elusive father's great feats, and his great failings.

‘[…] I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I’d never done that before. And these images — the now and then of my father — converged, and at that moment he turned into a weird creature, wild, concurrently young and old, dying and newborn.
My father became a myth.’

Edward Bloom is an enigma of a man that has always told only the most elaborate yet unbelievable tales of his life. He is a traveling businessman that rarely comes home, even though he has a wife and a son forever waiting for him. Being home so little forces his son, William, to put these tall tales together in his mind in the hope that his father might become less of a mystery to him. When Edward comes home to stay because he’s dying, William seeks to learn as much as he can about his father before it’s too late.

‘Beneath one facade there’s another facade and then another, and beneath that the aching dark place, his life, something that neither of us understands.’

The tall tales of the man named Edward Bloom are the very definition of far-fetched, yet being the only stories he has ever told has transformed them into a type of myth thus transforming him into an inspiring hero of his own making. He’s encountered a giant and a two-headed Japanese geisha. He rode on the back of a giant catfish and explored an underwater town. There have been river-girls and all-seeing glass eyes and even a time when he saved a little girl from certain death by ripping out the very heart of a wild dog. Each piece of his life is told episodically but not always chronologically and serves only to heighten the mystery.

‘When a man’s stories are remembered, then he is immortal.’

William’s insistence on discovering the true nature of his father never amounts to much as Edward continues to shroud himself in his stories steeped in fantasy. But it ultimately becomes unnecessary anyway. Magical realism runs rampant in this tale, yet at the heart of the story, it’s simply about the unconditional love between a father and son.

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Review + Guest Post + Giveaway! The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay

October 24, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Guest Post, Read in 2012 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Guest Post + Giveaway! The Shortest Way Home by Juliette FayThe Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay
Published by Penguin Books on October 30th 2012
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

A NOVEL FULL OF HUMOR AND HOPE FOR FINDING YOURSELF WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECTED

Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. Completely relatable, The Shortest Way Home is another perfect serving of a slice of life from the irresistible Fay.

About Juliette Fay

Juliette Fay's first novel, Shelter Me, was a 2009 Massachusetts Book Award "Book of the Year." Her second novel, Deep Down True, was short-listed for the Women's Fiction award by the American Library Association. Juliette received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a master's degree from Harvard University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children. The Shortest Way Home is her third novel.

 

A Book in The Drawer . . . Right Where It Should Be
By Juliette Fay,
Author of The Shortest Way Home

I have a book in the drawer. Okay, it’s not in an actual drawer. It’s in a box with old tax documentation under my fax/scanner. I also have electronic copies stashed in several places. Not that it matters. It will never see the light of day.

The Book in the Drawer is a phrase I’ve heard often from other authors, nearly proverbial in its usage. It’s the practice novel, the one that never got published. If a fiction-writers bible were ever to be written, the psalms might include the following lamentation:

Oh, Lord, have mercy on my wretchedness.
I have been cast out into the wilderness of time wastage.
I have put my pen to many a parchment,
Pages that speak from the depths of my soul,
And yet my toil has been for naught!
Alas, my Book is in The Drawer.

(Woeful sigh.)

I wrote my drawer novel out of aggravation. I had just read a remarkably bad book. The only thing I liked about it was the premise: two people trapped in an elevator. (She was beautiful, he was handsome. Of course. Yawn.) I found myself wondering, What would I do with that for a starting point? Who would I put in that elevator?

I decided that the man had just come from a family barbecue at which his siblings had skewered him for being selfish. The woman was a recovering alcoholic with an unmedicated anxiety disorder. The elevator got stuck between floors during a power outage, and the woman had a panic attack and peed her pants.

I called it The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society. It took me a year to write. In the end, the best thing about it was the title, which I still really love.

And it almost got published! I had an agent and everything. (He completely ignored me then shunted me off to some 24-year-old “associate” who clearly hated me and my book. After a couple of painful months they decided it was unpublishable, notifying me by registered letter. I am not making this up. Seriously, they couldn’t have picked up the phone?)

I was in a state of ocean-floor level misery until I remembered how much I truly loathed and was slightly afraid of the both of them. Also, in the year that I had been trying desperately to get an agent, then waiting for them to find a publisher, I had written another novel, Shelter Me, and I knew it was better than The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society, except for the title, which, let’s face it, is hard to beat.

Shelter Me was soon repped by Theresa Park of The Park Literary Group, my second — and as far as I’m concerned, final — agent, whom I love. After she got Shelter Me sold to HarperCollins, I asked her to read The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society. She was not enthusiastic — didn’t even think it could be fixed — so I left it in The Drawer (so to speak) and turned my efforts toward the new story I was working on which became Deep Down True.

There are three things I’m grateful for regarding The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society:

1. That I completed it. Before that I truly had no idea if I could take a story from the bunch of stray thoughts to a full-length novel with a recognizable beginning, middle and end. It allowed me to put an official check mark next to something I’d always had on my bucket list: write a novel. Not write a bestseller or even get published. Just put the words on paper from start to finish.

2. That it’s in The Drawer. For a while I had a hard time with the fact that I’d spent an entire year writing something that would never see the light of day. After I finishedDeep Down True, I went back to see if I couldn’t — oh, how foolishly — prove my agent wrong by buffing it to a publishable state. I couldn’t. It was not good. And if it hadbeen published, I would be embarrassed by it now. It was a practice novel, pure and simple.

The third reason is a little surprising. My father read and loved The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society when I first wrote it. Along with being an adoring and completely biased parent, he’s also a psychologist who often sees clients with phobias.

A couple of months ago, he was helping a client with incapacitating claustrophobia — especially in elevators. Her father was very ill and being treated on the twelfth floor of Massachusetts General Hospital. She desperately wanted to visit him, but not being in great health herself, she couldn’t walk up twelve floors. My father went with her to help her get through the elevator ride. As they waited on the ground floor, she became terribly anxious, and he thought she might not be able to visit her dad.
He later told me, “I wanted to distract her, so I started telling the story of The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society. By the time the elevator came she was laughing, so I kept going. When we got to the twelfth floor she couldn’t believe the ride was over so fast.”

Thus, 3. That it helped someone. You could look at a book in a drawer as a year’s worth of work for nothing, and in some sense you’d be right. But when I remember that mine also helped an ailing man get a visit from his daughter, my frustration is reduced to almost nothing.

© 2012 Juliette Fay, author of The Shortest Way Home

‘From the time he was fifteen Sean had known he would head out and do as much good as he could in the time that was left, while he waited for his mother’s diagnosis to become his own.’

Sean has known since an early age that he had a 50% chance he would develop the same disease that took his mother: Huntington’s disease. Not wanting to waste the life he had left he devoted his life to being selfless and helping others as a nurse in various foreign lands. Deciding that he needs a break because he’s getting burnt out from working so hard, he finally realizes that he’s old enough that he may have actually dodged a bullet and he doesn’t in fact have Huntington’s disease. He beat the odds. But this comes with the realization that he molded his life around the fact that he may very well not have many years to live and he begins to wonder just how different his life could have been if he had made different choices, if he had actually gotten tested and known for sure if he had the disease or not.

Sean returns home to visit his Aunt Vivian, sister Deidre, and his late brother Hugh’s son Kevin. He’s shocked to find that his Aunt Vivvy appears to have Alzheimer’s or early signs of dementia, Deidre is completely absorbed in making it big as an actor and is never home, and that eleven year old Kevin appears to be raising himself. Kevin is an extremely self-sufficient child and isn’t neglected; however, he finds his behavior to be strange until a friend mentions he exhibits signs of having a sensory processing disorder. Reluctant to alter his roaming lifestyle despite the obvious need for his presence to be closer to home, Sean still fully intends on leaving again once he’s been able to get everything straightened out.

There was a lot of detail given regarding Huntington’s disease and sensory processing disorders. Both diseases/disorders I knew very little about to begin with but it was extremely interesting to learn more about. It wasn’t overdone and didn’t venture off into medical jargon that didn’t make much sense, it was well explained and quite informative.

This is a hard book to put a label on. There were a few religious angles but they weren’t so abundant that I would label it a ‘Christian Fiction’ because there were also a couple of sex scenes. The bits of romance that were thrown in weren’t overdone and was nicely intertwined with the story but not so much I would label it a ‘Romance’ either. Definitely one for Adult Contemporary fans with a ‘deeper’ message. I found all of the characters to be quite charming which was a real treat. Once I passed the halfway point I was so absorbed into the story I couldn’t put it down. I suppose it could be said it was a predictable ending but I still raced to finish. Overall this was a surprisingly funny and lighthearted read despite the serious subject matter and I found myself laughing often.

Phew! This was a super long post with lots of scrolling required. Well, as a ‘congratulations you made it to the end’, here’s your opportunity to win a copy of this wonderful book!

Giveaway Details
1 copy of The Shortest Way Home open to U.S. and Canada addresses only!
Giveaway ends October 30th, 2012
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!

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Short Story Review – The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind

March 1, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2012, Short Stories 1 Comment

Short Story Review – The Pigeon by Patrick SüskindThe Pigeon by Patrick Süskind
Published by Penguin Books on May 12, 1988
Pages: 96
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

five-stars

Set in Paris and attracting comparisons with Franz Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe, "The Pigeon" is Patrick Suskind's tense, disturbing follow-up to the bestselling "Perfume". The novella tells the story of a day in the meticulously ordered life of bank security guard, Jonathan Noel, who has been hiding from life since his wife left him for her Tunisian lover. When Jonathan opens his front door on a day he believes will be just like any other, he encounters not the desired empty hallway but an unwelcome, diabolical intruder...

‘At the time the pigeon affair overtook him, unhinging his life from one day to the next, Jonathan Noel, already past fifty, could look back over a good twenty-year period of total uneventfulness and would never have expected anything of importance could ever overtake him again – other than death some day.’

‘The Pigeon’ is an incredibly short story detailing a day (albeit a rather momentous day) in the life of Jonathan Noel. Jonathan leads a secluded and private life as a bank security guard in Paris. He enjoys the life he has made for himself and is perfectly content with it continuing as such for his remaining years; however, on his way to work one morning this all comes collapsing down around him as he discovers a pigeon on his front porch. As soon as the pigeon entered his life, his life literally came crumbling apart in his mind. All of his carefully made plans became as fragile as a snowflake.

‘…but he suddenly no longer saw himself – that is, he no longer saw himself as a part of the world surrounding him. It was rather, as if for a few seconds he were standing far away, outside it, and were regarding this world through the wrong end of a telescope.’

I became an instant fan of Patrick Süskind after stumbling upon his novel ‘Pefume’. It left such a permanent imprint on me and is still one of my favorite books to date. I’m not sure why I never looked into whether or not he had any additional works, but after embarking on my ‘1001 Books to Read Before I Die’ reading challenge I discovered ‘The Pigeon’ as one of those 1001. Overjoyed, I knew I had to have it.

Patrick Süskind’s writing is so thoroughly impressionable that earlier this afternoon I saw a pigeon on the side of the road and had to suppress a shiver as Jonathan’s fears flooded my mind. Mildly amusing, but, I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at a pigeon the same again. His descriptions of the pigeon and Jonathan’s instant anxiety over the pigeon were immediately understandable even though, looking at the bigger picture, it seemed as if he made a fuss over nothing. I’ll admit, I laughed at first because it seemed quite absurd, but as the story progressed you can see now it’s not just the pigeon that affected poor Jonathan in that manner; it was just the catalyst to a series of events that disrupted his painstakingly normal existence.

I’m giving ‘The Pigeon’ 5 stars for one reason and one reason only (and it’s not because it’s as great a story as Perfume because it isn’t): because he’s a truly amazing writer. I will read anything written by Patrick Süskind. It’s just such a shame that there aren’t more novels of his in existence to read.

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Book Review – 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

February 2, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2012 0 Comments

Book Review – 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Published by Penguin Books on September 1970
Pages: 97
Genres: Classics, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-half-stars

 

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

 

84, Charing Cross Road is a truly delightful true story of friendship retold through a series of letters that were written between 1949 and 1968. The friendship between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel developed after Helene had sent a request for a specific list of books to Marks & Co. in London. From there, the correspondence continued over the years between the two but also between the other employees of Mark & Co. and even with Frank’s family who were grateful to Helene for her kindness as she would send them food packs when they were dealing with rations in London. Their friendship was quite touching and I enjoyed watching as their letters developed more personal touches over the years.

“You see how it is, Frankie, you’re the only soul alive who understands me.”

Helene was always planning a trip to England to visit the people she had written to for a great many years; however, life forever got in the way and the trip simply never occurred. I loved Helene’s sense of humor; she was quite amusing and incredibly charming. Reading the last page of the book made me sigh with longing… contemplating a different ending; one where Helene would actually make it over to England.

“If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.”

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Book Review – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

August 9, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 1 Comment

Book Review – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick SüskindPerfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
Published by Penguin Books on September 12, 1986
Pages: 272
Genres: Classics, Horror, Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Pigeon

five-stars

The year is 1738; the place, Paris. A baby is born under a fish-monger’s bloody table in a marketplace, and abandoned. Orphaned, passed over to the monks as a charity case, already there is something in the aura of the tiny infant that is unsettling. No one will look after him; he is somehow too demanding, and, even more disturbing, something is missing: as his wet nurse tries to explain, he doesn’t smell the way a baby should smell; indeed, he has no scent at all.

Slowly, as we watch Jean-Baptiste Grenouille cling stubbornly to life, we begin to realize that a monster is growing before our eyes. With mounting unease, yet hypnotized, we see him explore his powers and their effect on the world around him. For this dark and sinister boy who has no smell himself possesses an absolute sense of smell, and with it he can read the world to discover the hidden truths that elude ordinary men. He can smell the very composition of objects, and their history, and where they have been, he has no need of the light, and darkness is not dark to him, because nothing can mask the odors of the universe.

As he leaves childhood behind and comes to understand his terrible uniqueness, his obsession becomes the quest to identify, and then to isolate, the most perfect scent of all, the scent of life itself.

At first, he hones his powers, learning the ancient arts of perfume-making until the exquisite fragrances he creates are the rage of Paris, and indeed Europe. Then, secure in his mastery of these means to an end, he withdraws into a strange and agonized solitude, waiting, dreaming, until the morning when he wakes, ready to embark on his monstrous quest: to find and extract from the most perfect living creatures—the most beautiful young virgins in the land— that ultimate perfume which alone can make him, too, fully human. As his trail leads him, at an ever-quickening pace, from his savage exile to the heart of the country and then back to Paris, we are caught up in a rising storm of terror and mortal sensual conquest until the frenzy of his final triumph explodes in all its horrifying consequences.

Told with dazzling narrative brilliance and the haunting power of a grown-up fairy tale, Perfume is one of the most remarkable novels of the last fifty years.

‘Perfume’ tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille a boy who grew up on the streets of Paris. Jean-Baptiste was no ordinary boy, he had a gift… a sense of smell that could not be rivaled. Naturally he found his niche by becoming an apprentice to a master perfumer who teaches him the art of making perfume. He excelled at this and people were scrambling to buy his product. As he branched out and started searching for new scents to include in his perfumes, his fascination with trying to find the “ultimate perfume” takes a morbid turn when he finds that ultimate scent is coming from a beautiful woman, and he has to capture it by any means necessary.

I picked this book up on a whim at a used bookstore one day simply thinking that I’d like to read something different for a change. ‘Perfume’ managed to root itself so deep in my mind that I still remember this novel in vivid detail to this day; I must have read it at least ten years ago. The story is disturbing in so many ways yet so unbelievably brilliant and fascinating that you can’t help but be enthralled.

The novel is extremely graphic at times but that’s what really makes the story. Highly recommended, I love this novel it’s one of my absolute favorites.

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Early Review – Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2011 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella DuffyTheodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy
Published by Penguin Books on September 27th 2011
Pages: 337
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

'Justinian took a wife: and the manner she was born and bred, and wedded to this man, tore up the Roman Empire by the very roots.' Procopius

Charming, charismatic, heroic - Theodora of Constantinople rose from nothing to become the most powerful woman in the history of Byzantine Rome. In Stella Duffy's breathtaking new novel, she comes to life again - a fascinating, controversial and seductive woman. Some called her a saint. Others were not so kind...

When her father is killed, the young Theodora is forced into near slavery to survive. But just as she learns to control her body as a dancer, and for the men who can afford her, so she is determined to shape a very different fate for herself.

From the vibrant streets and erotic stage shows of sixth-century Constantinople to the holy desert retreats of Alexandria, Theodora is an extraordinary imaginative achievement from one of our finest writers.

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore tells the story of Theodora, before and after she became one of the most powerful women in the Byzantine Empire’s history. The novel touches briefly on her adolescent years and how it began by the age of 5 when her mother offered up her and two other sisters as supporters to the Blue faction.

Theodora was a strong thinking and willful woman in a time when this was far from acceptable. Theodora’s status was well known as an ‘actress’ when during these times being an ‘actress’ meant you were unable to marry and you were also unable to own property. During her relationship with Hecebolus she was his mistress, but nothing more. She did everything a typical wife would be expected to do, she just lacked title. This is when Theodora began her search for a priest or bishop who would be able to take her case to a higher court in order to have her sins absolved and to have the laws changed for her to be able to marry. She ends up being betrayed by her lady’s maid and friend, Chrysomallo, when she becomes Hecebolus’s lover and ends up with child. Theodora is forced to leave and learn to survive on her own using the only tool she knows; her body. The story continues with Theodora being introduced to Justinian and the path being paved to her becoming the future Empress.

This book is not a biography or a memoir, it is a historical fiction novel, and because of this I think I was expecting a little bit more from this. The author clearly did her research on the life of Theodora, but considering the fact that she was able to take artistic license with the subject, in the end it didn’t seem like she reached the potential the story could have had. In the end the story read like a biography and just told Theodora’s story rather than showing the life of Theodora and what made her the powerful woman she was known to be. I really didn’t care for Theodora all that much in this story; the character and overall story was definitely lacking.

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