Review – Providence – Caroline Kepnes

Providence - Caroline Kepnes

Providence

Caroline Kepnes

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471162862

 

Description:

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he’s suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and “fit in” with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity–but he’s soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

 

My View:

This was an interesting read. It was not the book I thought I was going to read. (And I wasn’t expecting another You but was expecting something more dynamic and engaging).   The beginning was brilliant – it had the feel of an early, creepy, Stephen King horror/sci fi but then decided it couldn’t make up its mind what story it wanted to tell – horror, mystery, crime, love story – in the end I decided enduring love was the theme at the heart of this read.

I found the characters aside from the protagonist Jon, to be unlikeable.  I found the frequent references to an existing horror story had no meaning for me – and I think this is the biggest downfall of the read – I think it doesn’t translate to a wider audience that is not familiar with this author/existing narrative, consequently I wasn’t really engaged in the read and the characters plight and I found the chapters about Jon as an avenging angel pathway predictable.

On the positive side – I did think about the resolution long after I put the book back on my shelf.

 

 

 

Last But Not Least – A Fantastic Four Book Give Away

I think you will agree that I have had some very special giveaways listed on my blog today, but they represent just a small sample of the talent that is Australian writers!  Next time you are selecting a book to read – at a bookshop, library,  airport news agency, online or in person, as a gift or for yourself consider Aussie authors – there is so much choice, so much talent in this country.

And speaking of talent, if you are not lucky enough to win this awesome book pack generously provided by Echo Publishing, you owe it to your self to seek out a copy of these contemporary eclectic reads.  And by the way – what do you think to these covers?  Magnificent aren’t they ? For your chance to win this 4 pack book treat, it is so simple, in the comments tell which cover art displayed here, speaks to you.

****Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Giveaway ends midnight 28 January 2017.

le-chateau

Le Chateau

Description:

When Charlotte regains consciousness after an accident, she finds herself living a stranger’s life. The previous five years are a blank, and her husband, Henri, and daughter, Ada, are strangers. Arriving at their family chateau in southern France, she hopes to regain her memories. Instead, she feels isolated and unsettled. Strange events hint at underlying darkness and menace. Charlotte doesn’t know who to trust.

Did she really have an affair with their charming Irish neighbour, as her enigmatic mother-in-law suggests? And what of Henri? He seems loving and kind, a good parent, but Charlotte is wary. Then there is Ada, a little girl who just wants her mother back.

With the help of her friend and fellow Australian Susannah, Charlotte starts to piece together events, but her newfound confidence is shaken with news that puts a deadline on her quest…

 

resurrection-bayResurrection Bay 

Description:

Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead. As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.

 

 

skin-deep

Skin Deep

Description:

When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out.

When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper.

There’s a federal election looming, with pundits tipping a landslide win for opposition leader Andrew Cardinal. Harry knows there’s a link between these disturbing visions and Cardinal’s shadowy past, and is compelled to right wrongs, one way or another.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

 

ida

Ida

Description:

How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?

Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.

One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.

How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?

Ida is an intelligent, diverse and entertaining novel that explores love, loss and longing, and speaks to the condition of an array of overwhelming, and often illusory, choices.

 

 

 

 

Best True Crime Read of 2016

I didn’t have to think twice when I was deciding which book deserves this accolade. I think this is a book that all people should read –  yes it might make you feel a little uncomfortable at times, yes it is sometimes brutal and it is hard to believe that this sort of thing is happening in modern Australia ( and this issue not endemic  to Australia – it is world wide.)

 

This narrative is exceptionally well written. It is emotional, it is challenging, it is heartbreaking and it shares shocking life altering truths.  Thank you to all the brave women and families who shared their painful intimate stories. Thanks you to Megan Norris for revealing these stories with candour and without sensationalism .  Education is the key. Awareness is needed.

 

The most moving book I have read in such a long time:

 

Megan Norris

Look What You Made Me Do, Fathers Who Kill

Megan Norris

 

 

Post Script: Bad Blood – Gary Kemble

Bad Blood

Bad Blood

Gary Kemble

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760402938

 

Description:

Freelance journalist Harry Hendrick is beginning to realise that you’re only as good as your last exclusive, and buzz doesn’t pay the bills, when he’s blackmailed by the police into investigating a series of bizarre suicides.

 

Those investigations lead him into the web of Mistress Hel, who plies her dark arts from her luxurious suburban lair. With continuing challenges in his personal and professional life, can Harry resist her seductive power? Or the thrill of danger itself?

 

The latest genre-bending thriller from an exciting Australian author, Gary Kemble.

 

Praise for Skin Deep

 

Kemble’s other life as a journalist is evident in his writing and his convincingly realistic characters … Skin Deep is a fine debut for both Kemble and Echo Publishing, which offers more than a passing nod to John Birmingham and Stephen King – BOOKS+PUBLISHING

 

Equally, not many ghost stories have this kind of immediacy, or tactility. No strange frissons or fleeting shadows here! It’s all blood, drained batteries and murderous rage, stinking of bourbon in the subtropical humidity – TABULA RASA

 

It keeps you guessing until the end – WEEKLY TIMES

 

My View:

Gary Kemble has his own brand of speculative fiction; it is the perfect mash up of horror, crime, gothic darkness, eroticism and paranormal narratives with a tiny bit of love and optimism thrown in for good measure.

 

The first prologue is dynamite! “NIGHTMARE. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT A NIGTHMARE IS!” p.3 (until you read this book).

 

Harry Hendrick is a great character; on the surface an average guy, just trying to live his life, earn a living and find love but scratch away at the epidermis, peel back the layers and discover the real Harry.  Harry is complex, likeable, at times self-destructive, full of good intentions, a great investigative reporter and is a little under the influence of a tattoo that mysteriously appeared on the back of his neck( see the first book in the series Skin Deep).  You can’t but help liking Harry.  I would like to know more about Sandy – the clairvoyant, I hope she features strongly in the next book.

 

This book has great characters, a suburban Australian setting, is a great example of the speculative read, and yet manages to seamlessly weave into this engaging narrative some serious social issues.  Historical abuse against children, misuse of Union funds…corruption…there is plenty of meat on this bone, give it a good chew.

 

Gary introduces Bad Bloodhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-ZU6GwXjU4

 

Post Script: Nocturnes Vol 2 Night Music – John Connolly

Nocturnes Vol 2 Night Music

Night Music

Nocturnes Volume 2

John Connolly

Hachette Australia

Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 1473619726

 

Description:

Fans of THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS and NOCTURNES will be delighted with this superbly crafted collection of short stories of the supernatural from John Connolly. A decade after NOCTURNES first terrified and delighted readers, John Connolly, bestselling author of thirteen acclaimed thrillers featuring private investigator Charlie Parker, gives us a second volume of tales of the supernatural. From stories of the monstrous for dark winter nights to fables of fantastic libraries and haunted books, from a tender narrative of love after death to a frank, personal and revealing account of the author’s affection for myths of ghosts and demons, this is a collection that will surprise, delight – and terrify. NIGHT MUSIC also contains two novellas: the multi-award-winning THE CAXTON PRIVATE LENDING LIBRARY & BOOK DEPOSITORY, and THE FRACTURED ATLAS, featuring The Wanderer in Unknown Realms, previously published as an ebook, developed here into a five-part novella. NIGHT MUSIC: NOCTURNES 2 is a masterly collection to be read with the lights on – menace has never been so seductive.

 

My View:

Captivating reading!  I was surprised to discover that one of my favourite writers, John Connolly (of the excellent Charlie Parker series) also turns his hand to short stories – and admirable they are.  I was particularly impressed with “The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository”; a little eerie, some great “what ifs” and some reflections/observations on reading and writing thrown in for good measure. Thoroughly enjoyable.  I think there is something here for everyone.

 

And speaking of the Charlie Parker series – look what arrived in the mail today.  I can’t wait to start this one though I seemed to have skipped A Song of Shadow – Charlie Parker #13 – I think I had better try and catch up on that before I start A Time of Torment #14.

 

A Time of Torment

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Maria Lewis

Who's Afraid

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Maria Lewis

Maria Lewis got her start covering police rounds in a newsroom as a teenager and has been working as a professional journalist for the past 10 years. Making the switch from writing about murders to movie stars was not a difficult decision. A former reporter at The Daily Telegraph, she also wrote about all things film and entertainment related as the Showbusiness Reporter for The Daily Mail. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Empire magazine, Huffington Post, The Sunday Mail, Junkee and BuzzFeed, to name but a few.

She appears on 2SER 107.3 FM’s weekly Drive segment Gaggle Of Geeks every Wednesday, talking the latest comic book and pop culture news and every Tuesday Breakfast for TV Talk. As a proud member of the Graffiti With Punctuation crew – a collective of Australia’s leading film bloggers — she makes up half of the Pod Save Our Screen podcast.

Based in Sydney, she lives in a house with too many movie posters and just the right amount of humans. Maria can often be found spending much money on comics, watching horror movies at stupid hours, inhaling books on modern feminist theory (aka anything Caitlin Moran touches) and holding on to the one belief she has had since she was five: that unicorns exist. She is most likely Mark Wahlberg’s future wife. Most likely…

Who’s Afraid? is her debut novel and is set to be released in Australia in January, 2016 through Hachette Australia and worldwide in July, 2016 from Piatkus/Little Brown Books. The sequel – Who’s Afraid Too? – is also scheduled to hit bookshelves shortly thereafter. (http://marialewis.com.au/about/)

 

Please make Maria welcome to my blog.

Maria Lewis

Let’s talk writing. Do you belong to a writers support group and if so how does this group support your writing efforts?…

I don’t officially, but I’m loosely associated with the Sydney Shadows which is a group for horror writers that has a few members I share an agent with and another called Hoff’s Babes, which was set up by the women I wrote a surfing anthology with for HarperCollins. Unofficially, I’ve had the benefit of growing up in a newsroom so the first people I met covering police rounds in the scanner room were teens like me and are still my best friends a decade later. They’re a mish-mash of political journalists, social affairs writers, entertainment writers, policy writers, the whole thing, so they’re always my first audience and my first sounding board. They have a trained eye so they’re looking for mistakes, which is handy, but because they’re all from such different areas of expertise it’s a good way to determine if I have something special. Can I make them all like it, usually for different reasons? Then that’s something to push forward with.

 

Who do you see as your prime audience?…

Essentially anyone who doesn’t physically recoil from the phrase “feminist werewolf tale”. Obviously Who’s Afraid? fits comfortably within the urban fantasy genre and will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, but I like to think that it has the potential to latch on to non-genre readers. It’s like a remix of all of my favourite bits of pop culture – from music and TV to horror and crime thrillers – so hopefully it’s perhaps a lil’ more accessible to people who might otherwise turn their nose up murder, mayhem and monsters.

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who are your favourite authors?

Given all the press I’ve been doing lately you would think I’d have a better answer than just wanting to scream “ALL OF THEM!” at the top of my lungs, but here we are. Classically my faves include Mary Shelley, Roald Dahl, J.K Rowling, Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Gail Simone, Thomas Harris, Brian K Vaughan, Roxane Gay,Greg Rucka, Caitlin Moran etc. but in terms of authors who I’ll just pick up blindly without reading the blurb on the back of the book – that’s how consistently great these people are – it’s the likes of Charlaine Harris, Richelle Mead, Anne Bishop, Tom Taylor, Darynda Jones, Hillary Jordan, Kate Beaton, Maria V. Snyder, Patricia Briggs, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Noelle Stevenson (to wax lyrical about a few).

 

How would you describe Who’s Afraid? What genre do you think it fits?

The sound bite I keep going for is “gender-bent Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde with werewolves and swearing”, because that keeps everything pretty concise and in a nutshell. Mind you, someone did call it “Underworld meets Animal Kingdom” which I’m very fond of, far as descriptions go.

 

Is Who’s Afraid likely to go Manga or animated?

HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE HOLY SHIT?!?! No one has asked me that yet and although I don’t know about Manga, I could definitely see it as an animated series in a similar vein to the Blade and Spawn shows which both handled graphic and explicit content beautifully in that medium. The great thing about animated shows too is your not limited in terms of set pieces or special effects you have to master, so there’s almost unlimited potential there (just look at Korra!). Realistically though, I think the medium where we’re most likely to see Who’s Afraid? outside of bookshelves is on the screen, whether that be silver or small, as Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lexi Alexander (Green Street Hooligans, Supergirl, Arrow, Punisher: War Zone) has been very vocal on Twitter about wanting to make it her next project, which is like a fever dream come true to be honest. I honestly couldn’t think of anyone better to take on Who’s Afraid? than her.

 

 

 

Let’s talk tattoos. Tattoos these days are works of art- the colours are amazing, the tattooists are talented artists. Which is your favourite tattoo? …

Had to make a call here and assume you meant my tattoos, because there are a lot of characters in the novel with tattoos too but that’s a whole other thing. I have about 15 tattoos all up, most of which are part of a pop culture sleeve but there’s another half a dozen that are scattered around my body. Tattoos are honestly a gateway drug because once you find a fit with an artist or style that you like, it’s really hard to stop – especially for me, because I designed the first tattoo I wanted when I was 13 then waited until I hit 18 to get it done. As for my personal favourite… that is such a tough one, as it changes depending on my mood and also my tattoos are each pretty different, from plain black quotes (Jak Skallywag) to cute cartoon works (Mel Meline). Yes, okay, a favourite … it’s probably my Gambit feature piece. He’s my favourite X-Men and one of my favourite comic book characters ever and it’s just such a gorgeous, detailed and colourful work that’s a complete original. My pal Gooney Toons designed and inked it over the course of a marathon seven-hour session and every day I’m blown away with what he has created. It’s a real honour to have it on my body forever. Plus, it scored me lunch with Channing Tatum who saw the tattoo and happens to be playing the character in an upcoming movie this year, so it has wacky memories attached.

 

Let’s talk characters. Who influenced your portrayal of your gutsy female protagonist Tommi Grayson…

It was a combination of her a) being inspired by the fictional feminist heroines I grew up with in pop culture (Lt Ripley, Buffy, Clarice Starling and Ardelia Mapp, Daria, She-Hulk, Xena, Scully, Matilda, Huntress) and b) being a direct reaction to everything I wasn’t seeing (biracial, complicated heroines who didn’t necessarily have all of their shit together). It felt like the heroines I was reading in genre fiction were getting younger and younger, leading revolutions and reading William Blake poetry. At 15, I could barely find my genitals let alone inspire the masses. Tommi Grayson was the kind of heroine that I felt was realistic in her humanity: she’s imperfect, she’s impulsive, she’s irrational. Yes, you’re cheering for her but at the same time you’re likely to cringe at her course of action. That, I think, is what makes her interesting and whole on the page and I think it’s what people seem to be responding too as well.

Do you use a storyboard/listen to inspiring music etc. when you write?…

Both, actually. As I mentioned I grew up honing my writing skills in a newsroom which is one of the most hectic and noisy environments known to humanity. Naturally now when it comes to writing novels, I can’t function in the quiet: I need music and I also like the action of a bustling café or crowded park. I put together a playlist on Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/user/1242659949/playlist/0beTfhzp4aJeyKIG09akPM ) that has a lot of the music mentioned specifically in the book or songs/bands that relate to specific characters, but it’s also a lot of the music I was listening to when putting the first book together. As for storyboards, I’m a very visual person so often times when I would hit a wall with the physical writing of Who’s Afraid? I’d turn to drawing as it was a great way for me to stay involved in the universe without having to type a damn thing. Tricky action scenes I like to storyboard, but a lot of my characters started out as sketches first and the descriptions of them you read in the novel are based off my (shoddy) drawings.

Who can you visualise playing the lead roles in the book? …

Oh ho ho, am I ready for this question! I’m a nerd who keeps a list in my phone that I add to and update all the time with people who I think would be perfect for the roles. Beginning with…

Tommi Grayson: Keisha Castle-Hughes (For me, there’s truly no one else. For the other characters I like to have a few other options but Keisha is where it’s at: she has the emotional depth and fierce quality like no other actress.)

Lorcan MacCarthy: Jakob Oftebro, Alex Russell, Amadeus Serafini

James ‘Poc’ Hughes: Marcus Richardson, Alfred Enoch, Jason Mitchell, Donald Glover

Joss Jabour: Munro Chambers, , Kyle Gallner, John Karna, Caleb Landry

Mari Bronberg: Sonia Suhl, Laurence Leboeuf, Karla Souza

Simon Tianne: Stan Walker, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer

James Ihi: Tia-Taharoa Maipi, James Rolleston

 

I hear there is a second book to be released shortly – Who’s Afraid Too? Can we have sneak peek??

I love your enthusiasm! Yes, Who’s Afraid Too? is ready to go and I have the first four books in the series done and dusted. Here’s a tidbit from book two:

 

“I trudged up the six flights of stairs and thought greedily about the big, soft bed I had waiting for me. Closing the apartment door with my back, I glanced at the creeping light coming through the windows as the sun began to rise. I stiffened, suddenly sensing the presence of someone else. There were two someones, as it turned out. Two women were standing less than a metre in front of me. They ran their eyes quickly over my appearance. They were identical twins. From their harsh and pointed facial features to the shaved heads and trim physiques, I wouldn’t have been surprised if every single cell was a perfect match. They were almost wearing matching outfits; black boots, black jeans, black t-shirts, and denim jackets. At least they had different styles of denim jackets. I noticed bulges emerging from strange places under their clothing. Weapons.

Immediately I sunk into a fight stance and backed up towards the kitchen. They looked surprised by this and glanced at each other before mirroring my own movements. Without looking behind me I reached back and drew two butcher’s knives from the holder on the counter. Everything about them looked dangerous and if I was going to have any chance of escaping this I needed to act quickly.

“Listen,” one of them started.

I didn’t wait to hear the rest of what she said because I had hurled a knife at her. My aim was true, but she darted out of its path with cat-like reflexes. I tried to dash for the door. Her sister beat me to it and landed a front kick directly in my chest. I went flying backwards and landed on the bench, smashing the plates we had left there from dinner. The wind was knocked completely out of me. I spun my legs around and made contact with the other twin as she tried to come closer. I flipped off the bench and grabbed a hanging saucepan in the process. Great. I was going to fight these two very skilled strangers with a saucepan and a knife. I was fucked.”

 

 

Maria can be contacted here:

Email maria@marialewis.com.au

Twitter @MovieMazz

Tumblr http://whosafraidart.tumblr.com/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/MovieMazz/

F/Book MariaLewisWriter

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Who’s Afraid? – Maria Lewis

Who's Afraid?

Who’s Afraid?

Maria Lewis

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780349411149

 

Description:

Incredibly exciting new voice in paranormal fiction.

This is the story of Tommi, a young Scottish woman living an ordinary life, who stumbles violently into her birthright as the world’s most powerful werewolf. The sudden appearance of a dark, mysterious (and very attractive) guardian further confuses her as her powers begin to develop and she begins to understand that her life can never be the same again. The reader will be swept up in Tommi’s journey as she’s thrown into the middle of a centuries-old battle and a world peopled with expert warriors and vicious enemies – this is the start of a series – and a world – you will fall in love with.

 

My View:

For those who like their drama with a huge dollop of supernatural, full moon transformations, blood thirsty revenge scenes mingled with romance, this very adult paranormal is for you!

 

Maria Lewis has created a very confident, independent and as of the last full moon, very were wolf, female super hero called Tommi; blue haired, tattooed, artistic, creative, intelligent…I can see this protagonist winning lots of fans (and her “Guardian” – will inspire more than a few crushes I do think!) An exciting narrative with well-developed characters, this book yells out video game or 2D animation to me.