Book Review: Asylum by Isobel Blackthorn

I was given the chance to read and review Asylum by Isobel Blackthorn by Net Galley. My initial thoughts were that the cover seemed a little bland, but I always go by the saying, ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’. I did like the thought of reading a very strong character driven book, and this is what the book is.
                   

Book Description and Cover Image

‘Seeking asylum from the wreckage of her life, Yvette Grimm arrives in Australia on a holiday visa. She applies for permanent residency with no hope of success. Resisting advice that she marry to stay in the country, Yvette invests her hopes in a palm-reader’s prophecy that she will meet the father of her children before she’s thirty.
She’s twenty-nine.

Set in the excoriating heat of an endless Perth summer, against the backdrop of asylum seekers locked in detention, Asylum is a gripping tale of loss and belonging that is dark, absurd and hilarious by turns’ 

The story starts off with Yvette Grimm finding herself back in her childhood bedroom at her mother’s Leah’s house in Australia. She is on a holiday visa at the moment, but Leah has sent off her permanent residency forms. Yvette had to leave her old life in Malta. As you read through the book, you discover what Yvette’s life was like with her boyfriend Carlos through little snippets, and why she had to leave. I love this little quote. The author uses a fantastic style of writing throughout, to the point and very clear.
‘Yvette was seeking refuge from the wreckage of her life’
Yvette’s mother tells her that she must get married to stay in Australia, but Yvette is a sort of a hopeless romantic and believes that you marry for love not convenience. 
The story follows Yvette through her struggles of belonging no-where. Yvette takes you to a cockroach infested flat, to a cute little house to singing in a choir and a life changing event. It was a beautiful journey that the author took me on. Laughing in places, crying the next.
I loved the character of Yvette, she never let anything get her down, she was always expecting the worst, and this made her a much stronger person. I didn’t like her mum Leah, she seemed very cold towards Yvette, and always going on about her sister Debbie, which made Yvette feel alone at times.
I think the main idea of the book is to inform you about the difficulties that people have in gaining residencies. Even though Yvette’s mum and sister live in Australia it doesn’t make her a definite case to live their permanently, just because she stayed with her dad in England when her mother and sister moved back when they were children. I find the topic on political asylum quite fascinating and this book does question that. 
I would love to read other books with a similar topic to this one, it was a fascinating read. I would recommend to anyone looking for a strong female character lead.
I gave Asylum by Isobel Blackthorn 4 out of 5 stars.
Rachel xx
*Disclaimer: I was given this ebook to review free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own. Book cover image and  book description taken from NetGalley.com for purpose of this review.

Book Review: Rooted and Four Other Disturbing Stories

I was given an ebook copy of Rooted and Four Other Disturbing Stories by Shane Hall to read and review for my blog. A word of warning is that the short stories are not for the faint hearted!  
Product Description

“Inside are five brief and unsettling stories based on the dark, unknown corners of humanity and beyond. Five paranormal terrors await, from an impossible video rental store run by a smiling teenage girl, to the corners of reality where humans are locked away, and even to a sunny parking lot where a person who looks just like you is walking closer and closer”
My first thoughts were that the cover is very haunting and disturbing. Perfect for letting us know what type of book it’s going to be. 
I read the book in only an hour, I didn’t know the stories were going to be that short, but it was a very good scary hour. The stories are very well written, nuggets of pure gold in the horror/psychological universe. I re-read a couple of them after I finished to make sure I captured the whole picture of the story.
The first story Vivian’s Video is just plain weird, I really loved it! Next up comes How to Satisfy the Keymaker, this was my least favourite and one of the shortest. Then came John Adams Two. This one was the best, imagine meeting yourself in the car park? What would you do? The last two stories are called A Friend in the Depths and Rooted. 
I love that the stories are original. They show great talent from a new author, and I can’t wait to read more from Shane Hall. It’s a short book that I will read again one day when I am looking for a quick scare. Perfect for quick reading under the covers before bedtime, a note to parents, not suitable for children.
I have given Rooted and Four Other Disturbing Stories 5 out of 5 stars.
Rachel xx

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for a honest review. All views and opinion’s expressed are my own.

Giveaway ~ School For Stars by Holly & Kelly Willoughby

I have had such a huge amount of success with my last couple of giveaways that I have decided to run another one for you. This time it’s a chance to win a paperback copy of the children’s bestselling book School for Stars by sisters Holly and Kelly Willoughby. It’s 2 books in 1, containing the first two books in the School for Stars series. The book is aimed at 8 to 12 year olds although I do like a good school series myself.
The School For Stars series is all about twins, Molly and Maria Fitzfoster and their new friend Pippa Burrows and their school lives at the prestigious acting/dance/drama school called L’Etoile, School for stars. The trio share the same dream of becoming superstars, while being different in their own ways.
For a chance to win this book, please fill in the Rafflecopter below. Due to postage costs this will be a UK only competition.
Rachel xx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

There is one prize of a paperback copy of School for Stars – The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter.com from all valid entries and be notified by Twitter. The winner will have 7 days to respond with a valid UK postal address before a new winner is selected. Open to all UK entrants aged 18 or over only.
Facebook and Twitter are in no way associated with this giveaway.

Entry to this competition confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

www.theprizefinder.com

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Book Review: The Day We Disappeared

Last month I won this book with @joythestore on Twitter. It is a book I heard about before and so really wanted to read it. My luck was in when I was announced as one of their competition winners.
The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson is a cross between a romance novel and a mystery psychological thriller type of book. The two main characters are Annie and Kate, old friends that are living in two totally different worlds and not sure who they are anymore. 
Annie is a hippy type of girl working as a masseuse in various little rooms around London. One day she meets Stephen in one of these little rooms and he becomes her boyfriend and her ‘night in shining armour’ rescuing her and giving her a new working space in his office building. What Stephen doesn’t know is that Annie has a secret from her past that she doesn’t want anyone around her to know. 
Kate has run away from Dublin, suffering from stress and burnout and ends up at a livery yard working for Mark Waverley in Somerset. Kate is scared that she is going to be found at any minute, but this doesn’t stop her from having feelings for her new boss. 
I love the way the author Lucy switches each chapter back and forth between Annie and Kate’s stories. It’s written in a very clever way. I think Kate’s story is my favourite because of her love for Mark and his horse Stumpy and the way their relationships develop. The story keeps you holding on for more as you progress through the book. I really wanted to know why Kate ended up in Somerset! The characters are very well thought out and you will learn to love them all.
My only criticism is that it does start of fairly slow, but now I can see it was building and keeping us on tenderhooks till the end. 
I would recommend this book to mystery romance lovers. It’s perfect for holiday reading and it will keep you on edge till the very end. It’s a book I will be proud to keep on my bookshelf and I’m glad I have been given the opportunity to read it.
I gave The day We Disappeared 4 out of 5 stars.
Rachel xx
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Book Review: Ahoy For Joy by Keith Reilly

I was contacted by the author of this captivating novel asking if I wanted to read and write a review on it. I cannot turn down a free book, its just not in me! Before I accepted I read the description quickly on Goodreads and my first thoughts were that it seemed a really nice story, a bit different from my latest reads of Not A Word About Love and Patalosh: The Time Travellers. Now that I have read Ahoy For Joy by Keith Reilly, nice is a word not good enough to describe this book. Extraordinary is much more appropriate.

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Short Story Review – Edward’s First Love

I was asked by the lovely Jay Moussa-Mann if I would like to review her short story Edward’s First Love. I thought it would be a good challenge for me to review a short story as I rarely read them and have never written a review on one before. 
When I first read Edward’s First Love I thought how moving the story actually is. It’s about one of the founders of the Stockton-Darlington railway, called Edward Pease. Edward was a woollen manufacturer from Darlington who realised that a railway line from Darlington to Stockton was needed for future improvements to the industries. The night the line was due to open in 1825 something happened in Edward’s life, meaning it would never be the same again.
                       

It is a beautifully written Victorian tale that shows huge sadness, and no matter what you are doing at present, or what you have going on in life, your priorities can change immediately.
“They will come tomorrow, presenting it to the world, to the people. There will be excitement and joy and wonder. Is it wrong that I care no longer for this venture?”
There are lovely comparisons between locomotives and how the author describes the situation Edward is in. I don’t want to spoil you with too much of the details of what happens in the story, but before, Edwards first passion was locomotives, and his goal of creating the Stockton-Darlington line was all of a sudden very unimportant.
image taken from http://shortstorysunday.com/2015/01/18/edwards-first-love-by-jay-moussa-mann/
I believe the authors purpose of writing this short story is to tell us that there are more important things in our everyday lives than materialistic things. This is the message I received from reading through it. 
It is a worthwhile read, if you have some spare time. It’s one of those stories that engages you and gets you thinking. I have read it a few times over to fully understand the whole picture.
I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did.  Edward’s First Love
Rachel xx
*Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Edward’s First Love to review free of charge, all the opinions expressed are my own.

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