Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Bantam’

Where Love Lies

Julie Cohen
where love liesLately, Felicity just can’t shake a shadow of uncertainty. Her husband Quinn is the kindest person she knows and loves her peculiarities more than Felicity feels she deserves. But suddenly it’s as if she doesn’t quite belong.
Then Felicity experiences something extraordinary: a scent of perfume in the air which evokes memories that have been settled within her for a long time, untouched and undisturbed. As it happens again and again, the memories of a man Felicity hasn’t seen for ten years also flutter to the surface. And so do the feelings of being deeply, exquisitely in love . . .
Overwhelmed and bewildered by her emotions, Felicity tries to resist sinking blissfully into the past. But what if something truly isn’t as it should be? What if her mind has been playing tricks on her heart?
Which would you trust?

What were your overall thoughts?
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. So when it quickly grabbed my attention, I was truly relived. This book is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time and I found it difficult to stop reading. I really just wanted to know what was going on. Then there was worry and tension and fear. I honestly went through so many emotions while reading this book which helped to make it feel completely refreshing. Plus this book has a super sweet ending, making it all worthwhile.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The mystery of it all. I loved being put on the edge of my seat throughout this book. I also really enjoyed that I had no idea what was going on because the topic was so unique and something I have definitely never heard of before. This book kept me curious throughout which is a difficult thing to do. The curiosity even stayed after the reveal which was fantastic. There is such a wonderful feel to this book when you get to the end.

Who was your favourite character and why?
I’m going to have to say Felicity. This book is her story so I know that makes it hard to not choose her but I love Felicity because she was such a fascinating character. She wasn’t straight-forward but had an interesting background and she was just full of flavour. Felicity was a strong character that you couldn’t help but wish for. She made some odd choices but it was all explained eventually and I just think she was a fantastic protagonist who really carried the story.

Would you recommend this book?
I am certain that this book is not for everyone but if you enjoy complex, mysterious, human stories then I would highly recommend this book. If you’re looking for something with depth that will move you to feel a lot of things and cause you to really think, then this should be a book you read. It is captivating, interesting, and a little scary to boot! So if you want a book like that, you must read this book.

Summarize this book in one sentence. (Verdict)
Where Love Lies is an intense, emotional, powerful, original piece of fiction that is sure to stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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The Sweetest Dark

Shana Abe

the sweetest dark cover art“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”
Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heart full of secrets: she hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbours a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future and both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.
Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

The first thing that drew my attention to The Sweetest Dark was the stunning cover. A beautiful girl in a gorgeous dress is a common occurrence in the YA book cover world. But in this incidence, it was the mysterious sweep of smoke, appearing to form the dress itself, which added an intriguing and original element to the cover, tempting me to investigate the synopsis.

While I found the earlier part of Lora’s life interesting, providing essential background to her strength of character and realism to the world building- how would society react to a sensitive child with an ambiguous past with unusual abilities and no social filter? -It wasn’t until Lora arrived at Iverson collage, with its impressive façade, secret passages, snobbish inhabitants and of course two very different, but equally compelling boys, that I truly got sucked in to the story.

Don’t be mistaken to believing that this is another frustrating love triangle to survive (I have complicated love-hate feelings toward s love triangles), there is no battle between “Team Jesse” and “Team Armand” to capture the fair maidens heart. It is very clear from the start where Lora’s affections lie. However, both Jesse, the golden haired, selfless, self assured and wise, groundskeeper, and snarky Lord Armand, who’s contrasting darkness isn’t only due to his hair color, have equally important roles to play in Lora’s acceptance of her true nature and her other than normal life.

I really enjoyed the early 20th century setting. Not only did the time period became even more significant as the story unfolded, but I also found it really interesting to explore the additional challenges a non-contemporary setting provided. Lora has to hide her unusual abilities and fledgling relationship from everyone while coming to terms with the life altering discovery of her true nature and she has to do so in an environment divided by social class and gender inequality, on the cusp of medical advances in psychiatry, while the ominous cloud of WWI provides an underlying tension.

Abe’s writing is beautiful. Lyrical prose and lush descriptions combined with the characters’ unique sensory perspective combine together to create an absorbing world. The romance was sweet and intense. While I will happily read steamy, descriptive adult scenes, I also love when an author has the ability wrap me so entirely within a romance, that they are able to induce exquisite, butterfly in stomach, heart racing tension from a simple brush of fingertips .

Verdict: Once caught in it’s clutches, I found myself racing through the pages of The Sweetest Dark and as soon as I had finished I found myself online investigating the sequel. Scheduled for publication in August, The Deepest Night is high up on my wish list.

Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, WWI
Age: Young Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Debut (YA)
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I Should Be So Lucky

Judy Astley

I should be so lucky cover artViola hasn’t had much luck with men. Her first husband, Marco, companion of her youth and father of her only child, left her when he realised he was gay. Her second, Rhys, ended his high-octane, fame-filled life by driving his Porsche into a wall. No wonder her family always believes she needs Looking After, and her friends think she really shouldn’t be allowed out on her own…
Which is why, at the age of thirty-nine, she finds herself shamefully back at home, living with Mum.
Viola knows she has to take charge; she needs to get a life, and fast. With a stroppy teenage daughter, a demanding mother, and siblings who want to control her life for her, where is she going to turn?

We were sent this to review and I was more than happy to take it on. Even though Judy Astley is a well established author I hadn’t actually read any of her novels before, so it was great to get to read someone new to me and even better to know that if I liked it there are at least another 15 of her books out there to track down and devour. I love it when you discover lots of new books to read!

This story is centred around Viola who, to say the least, has been unlucky in her love life! Having married Marco after having become pregnant when they were both very young, he has come out and moved on, now living happily with James. Rhys, her next husband, was a soap star and womaniser whom she probably should never have married. He finally left her for his true love, but was then killed in a car crash on that very night. Viola has a lot of pieces to pick up and we meet her about 18 months later when she is really beginning to get herself back together.

I liked Viola, she has a good sense of humour, is a loving daughter to her mother and tries hard to get it right parenting her and Marco’s now teenage daughter Rachel. She puts up with her friends and siblings interference in her life sometimes with a lot more grace than I would and yet has the ability to stand up for herself too. But sometimes Viola is a bit ditzy and she is definitely a bit slow to catch on sometimes, particularly in one on-going situation. I was mentally shouting at her sometimes!

Viola has plenty on her plate to deal with. She has been living at her Mum’s after Rhys’ crazy fans were horrible to her when he died, but now feels ready to move home. So she has the house to get ready and so on. But she also has to face opposition from her older sister and brother who want her to stay and look after Naomi (mum) as she is getting older – not to mention use Violas money to upkeep the house they expect to inherit! Thankfully Naomi doesn’t want to be pushed around and knows her family well. This was a great family set up, it feels very true to life with all the tensions that can exist in families and I enjoyed willing on Viola and Naomi whilst inwardly ‘booing’ Kate and Richard.

Rachel also provides her own area of interest as she grapples with growing up and falling in love for the first time. Seeing some of the story through her eyes was an interesting change.

Of course there is a potential love interest (or two) for Viola, although she is adamant that there will not be any husband number 3. Her friends are trying to set her up, and considering what some of the friends are like I’d steer well clear of any of their ideas too! But as Viola sticks to her promise to herself and gets out more she has some interesting, (I did love the midnight gardening) amusing and even quite gross encounters. Well this is a story and the path of true love never does run smooth!

This novel has a very contemporary feel, with references to our current culture that will date this as time goes by, but it makes it feel very rooted now.

Verdict:So I did enjoy this, a lot. I will indeed be looking out for more by Judy Astley now. A great light read that includes real life issues that will resonate with many people.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Bantum Press
Publication Date: July 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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The Chocolate Money

Ashley Prentice Norton

Bettina Ballentyne is a chocolate heiress only by name; it is her glamorous and narcissistic mother, Babs, who lives up to the billing and plays by no ones sharp and sparkly humor will have you laughing during its darkest moments. A mesmerizing portrayal of the corrosive effects of an American fortune, The Chocolate Money is a shocking and intensely readable debut.

Well, this book was certainly an eye opener! The publisher had initially intrigued me by admitting that this book was the equivalent of Marmite and I can see why.

The protagonist Bettina Ballentyne is the daughter of a very rich heiress of a chocolate empire. It’s the lavish set up where ‘Babs’ the mother, is richer than you can imagine and doesn’t have to physically work for it so spends her days socialising, grooming, networking and being the biggest bitch 1980’s Chicago has encountered! Babs, funnily enough, will never be a contender for, ‘Mother of the year’ anytime soon. I’m no aspiring psychologist but even I can tell that this mother/daughter relationship was seriously screwed. From giving Bettina at the age of 10 very graphic pearls of wisdom in regards to her own sexual techniques and exploits to outright neglect and abuse, Babs is definitely one of those, beautiful on the outside, ugly on the inside characters. At the same time though, this isn’t one of those autobiographical books where the abuse is constant and there is hate spewing from a parental figure. Babs, in her own way does care for her daughter. It’s just in a very weird way. Babs cares for her daughter as she would a possession and as such would never supersede her own selfish desires.

All the while Bettina strives for her mothers affection and attention. As you wince through the car crash of this girl’s upbringing, she leaves her mother’s shadow to go to college. There she struggles to find her own identity and lacks the insight to maintain normal relationships and friendships. She then continues to make inappropriate decisions that will hurt her and others along the way.

This book was quite the sensationalist read and had me muttering ‘just…one….more…. page….’ until the late hours as I couldn’t put it down. I felt almost voyeuristic as I observed such a messed up family wondering what new low they would manage next.

Verdict: A challenging read and not for the easily offended but nevertheless had me gripped.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Hardback
Pages: 288
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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Hanging Hill

Mo Hayder

One morning in picture-perfect Bath, England, a teenage girl’s body is found on the towpath of a canal: Lorne Woods – beautiful, popular, and apparently the victim of a disturbingly brutal murder. Zoe Benedict – Harley-riding police detective, independent to a fault – is convinced the department head needs to look beyond the usual domestic motives to solve the case. Meanwhile, Zoe’s sister, Sally – recently divorced and in dire financial straits – has begun working as a housekeeper for a rich entrepreneur who quickly begins to seem possibly dangerous. When Zoe’s investigation turns up evidence that Lorne’s attempts to break into modeling had delivered her into the world of webcam girls and amateur porn, a crippling secret from Zoe’s past seems determined to emerge

Oh how I love Mo Hayder. She’s one of those authors where if I see that she’s released a new book, I’ll instantly purchase / borrow the book without even bothering to read the synopsis as I just know I’ll enjoy it!

For those of you who have not yet found Mo’s literary charms but like crime thrillers then a word of warning. Mo’s stories are pretty dark and disturbing and she is one of the few writers that actually made me so scared when reading her earlier works, ‘The Birdman’ and, ‘The Treatment’ I actually debated whether to skip a few pages as I was struggling to cope with the intensity of the action and the grim realisation that Mo has absolutely no qualms about favoured characters or vulnerable innocents suffering unspeakable horrors.

It was then, a few chapters into reading ‘Hanging Hill’, that I got that sense of foreboding that I was once again being invited into a very dark world. This time it involves adolescent young girls who are usually forced into the sex industry and get involved with some very nasty characters indeed who operate both in the UK and abroad.

The story focuses on two estranged sisters in their 30’s. Zoë, is the beautiful police officer with Amazonian attributes. She’s a fighter but emotionally stunted and self abusive when she needs to regain control. Sally is the stereotypical well to do housewife who has become overly reliant on her husband, that is, until he leaves her and starts a new family. She then has to learn the hard way that her carefree ways don’t necessarily serve her well when she has a teenage daughter to look after and ever increasing bills and repairs to pay.

Separately, these women become involved in the tangled web that occurs after a local schoolgirl is brutally and sadistically murdered. They each have to make dangerous decisions and work together to try and keep themselves and those that they love, safe from harm.

Verdict: Probably not as dark and intense as some of Mo’s earlier works but still a very intriguing (I shouldn’t say enjoyable should I….?) read and I was very pleased with the final, ‘plot twist finale’ even if I will be forever wondering, ‘What happened next?!’

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: April 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 432
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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The Silent Girl

Tess Gerritsen

When a hand is found in a Chinatown alley in downtown Boston, detective Jane Rizzoli climbs to a nearby rooftop and finds the hand’s owner – a woman whose throat has been slashed so deeply that her head us nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and pathologist Maura Isles to make a startling discovery. This violent death had a chilling prequel. Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious and beautiful martial arts master who knows a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. It soon becomes clear that this is an evil that has killed before and will kill again – unless Jane and Maura can track it down, and defeat it…

The Silent Girl is the 9th book in the series featuring (Maura) Isles and (Jane) Rizzoli and starts just a few months after the events of the previous book, The Killing Place. Do bear this in mind if you are reading this book out of sequence as it does contain spoilers from the previous book.

The narration is from the three perspectives of Isles, Rizzoli, and Iris Fang. Iris Fang is a mysterious widow of Chinese descent who has never accepted her husband’s apparent murder-suicide and will do anything to get justice for her husband and daughter.

Most of the action is set in Chinatown, Boston. If, like me your Chinese history and mythology is a little rusty(!) then reading this book will give you an insight into Chinese culture and its ancient traditions and mythology. It does this whilst still remaining a ‘light’ read and not feeling that you picked up a history book by accident.

Expect the usual macabre events that Tess delivers and supernatural elements thrown in the mix too. This was something which, when reading the premise, worried me but, in my opinion, kept within the boundaries of plausibility that you would expect for this genre.

If you’re particularly interested in Maura’s character you may be disappointed that she does not feature so prominently and has little input towards the main storyline. Rat and Bear whom, you would have met from the previous book are back, giving Maura some distraction from her on / off relationship with the lovely Father Brophy. If it’s any consolation, Maura will monopolise the next book when she visits Rat at ‘Evensong’, a school for orphaned children set on a rural campus. What a perfect setting for grisly events to unfold!

Verdict: A great read filled with suspense and kept me delightfully flummoxed almost to the very end. This is Tess on top form!

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: July 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 336
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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