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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-07 03:43
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He's accurately named the "Gardener", as in his possession is a most enchanting garden, with its own collection of delicate butterflies. He cares for them; feeds them, grooms them, even mourns them when they perish, but he's also the reason they expire, for he is their captor. Taken from their lives and branded as property, the young women must endure their time as a beloved butterfly.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Well, at least I more or less knew what I was getting into, as it was abundantly clear from the synopsis that this book would be chock-full of disturbing content. I mean, there was obviously going to be sexual abuse, right? However I can’t say that preparing myself for the inevitable made it any easier when it came around - the discomfort I experienced during some scenes was fierce, but I think it was worth it overall. I really enjoyed the format of the plot; the interview process and the accounts of certain events that took place within the garden. It was much of a beautiful nightmare; I say beautiful because the garden itself was a green thumb’s paradise. The writing clearly did well in expressing how exquisite the surrounding flora was - I would absolutely adore living somewhere like that, only of my own free will, of course. The darkness that lurked behind its exterior brought up the topic of ugly secrets hiding behind attractive fronts, which I believe can apply to a lot in today's world.

I found Maya to be extremely difficult to comprehend at times, and even like in some instances. Sure, I understood her hardships in life and the resulting effects on her mental state, but emotionally detached characters are generally harder for me to relate to. Her behaviour didn’t make much sense, even with the inclusion of the lacklustre twist at the end. I mean, you’d have to be a machine to just accept the fate of suddenly being a prisoner, and Maya was the definition of the perfect captive. This leads me to my biggest gripe that I couldn’t ignore about this book - the complete lack of self-preservation. The women were young and fit, and they never considered working together to overpower their much older captor? They even had access to a multitude of items that could have been used as weapons, such as sculpting tools and the likes. It does bother me when I need to question the plausibility of a story, as it’s the authors job to sufficiently build up a believable, consistent narrative. My suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

It's because of the absurdity of the characters that I didn't particularly favour any of them. Sure, one or two were likeable enough, just like the clear-cut villains were dislikeable, but none made their way into my heart. It was too bad, to say the least, that there was this constant barrier of doubt and incredibility that I couldn't bypass.

I need to mention the ending, or specifically, the attempt at a last minute revelation. I’m an enormous fan of plot twists, of those moments that force me to rethink, or surprise me to a large degree, but not every book needs one. In fact, I believe that, in this case, it was shoehorned in as a poor effort to try and explain Maya’s bizarre behaviour. In no way, shape, or form did it thrill or even interest me, and I considered it having little value. I won't outright state the details, but it was the wrong direction for the story.

This review reads significantly more negative than what my final rating displays. I think I should be clear that I was gripped, and it was difficult to tear me away from Hutchison’s grim tale despite the issues I had. I'm fond of dark fiction that touches upon horror aspects, and this really did tick a lot of boxes in that regard; there were many taboo themes, and the writing made it simple enough to become quickly absorbed. Perhaps it would have even been a top read, had some aspects been a little more logical.

In conclusion: It was remarkably entertaining, offering a twisted account of one man's obsession with beauty. Not for the faint of heart, as depictions of abuse were plentiful throughout. I had my problems with believability, and whilst I couldn't exactly dismiss those issues, I found it only right that I rated accordingly. Am I going to read further into the series? I can honestly say that it doesn't appeal, as I've glanced over numerous reviews that state it's more police / investigation work, and I'm not into that sort of thing.

Notable Quote:

Like beauty, desperation and fear were as common as breathing.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/07/07/the-butterfly-garden-by-dot-hutchison
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text 2018-03-03 23:58
February in Review

January in Review

 

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 6)

 

February sure flew past! I have to say, I had so much fun this month! There was a lot of coffee, wine, and book-related delights! I also had the chance to take part in a Q and A for Booklikes, which really made me feel warm and fuzzy inside! I know it's not that big of a deal, but it's nice to be acknowledged for something you work hard on. See my post about it here!

 

Read

 

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John Dies at the End by David Wong - It's surely becoming a regular enjoyment; taking part in the monthly group reads of Horror Aficionados! I honestly wasn't sure about this one at all - it sounded way too silly for my taste. How wrong I was! What a great start to the month!

 

 

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson - I was requested to read and review this one by the author. I'm glad I did, as it was a bit different than my usual reads, but in a good way. I promptly consumed it and reviewed it.

 

Hidden by Benedict Jacka - I started this series in 2015, whilst still in my Urban Fantasy phase. What intrigued my about it, was that it had a male protagonist, something that's not all too common in the genre. This series has never been perfect for me, but I still like to see what trouble Alex gets himself into.

 

The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi by M. Almelk - After being contacted by the lovely author, I quickly accepted his request! Post-apocalypse but on another planet? It certainly piqued my interest. I reviewed it here.

 

Preta's Realm by J. Thorn - A last minute read for the month. Having been on my Kindle for a long time, I decided to finally give it a shot. It was short, and it included some truly disgusting scenes.

 

Reviewed 

 

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Morium by S.J. Hermann

Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter (WORST READ)

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (2017 Review) (BEST READ)

The Awesome by Eva Darrows (2017 Review)

The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi by M. Almelk

 

I strive for two reviews a week, but I had extra space this month, so I included reviews from last year. I think I'll do that - start to post old reviews, just to have them on this blog. On Goodreads I have over a hundred reviews, dating back to 2011! This month also included a trip to Waterstones, and a basket full of books! All horror, of course.

 

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So how did February go for you? Read anything good? Let me know!

 

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/28/february-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-27 19:24
The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi by M. Almelk
The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi - M. Almelk

The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi by M. Almelk
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The planet has suffered since humanity arrived, and war has run rampant. After an event of near mass extinction, the survivors struggle to do their best in the grim conditions that have befallen them. It's not over yet, however, as a certain individual plans for a world-wide cleansing. He'll stop at nothing to protect the "Promised Land" from the conflict that so closely follows humankind. What he doesn't foresee, are the actions of a select few, and how they threaten everything he's working toward.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to M. Almelk for giving me the opportunity!

I feel I need to be clear right from the beginning - I didn't consider this to be a bad debut novel. In fact, I believe there to be good, solid ideas here that verge on being original. There's been an abundance of post-apocalyptic titles saturating the market lately, and whilst there's nothing at all wrong with that, I admittedly find it difficult to differentiate them all from each other. It's nice to find one that starts off in a new direction, with something that so obviously sets it apart. The planet of Casi immediately piqued my interest and I couldn't help but acknowledge the creativity involved - Almelk included geographical details and information regarding its wildlife that, quite frankly, impressed me. In particular, the way in which animals were presented was a personal highlight; Emba the cat, the Oroculyx spiders - I found enjoyment in their scenes, especially when they displayed their uncanny intelligence.

Despite those positive elements, however, it's unfortunate that from early on, I just couldn't connect to the characters or feel all that invested in the plot. Evan, Beveridge and Reya, whilst decent and likeable enough, remained at a distance as the story constantly jumped around. There were mere glimpses of the friendship and romance between them, and rather than witness their connection first-hand, I was told of it. For instance, Evan and Reya had very little interaction on-page before I was told of their feelings for one another. Even if they had history, and even if their partnership was fated, I always need more substance to feel any semblance of emotion for any romance.

That brings me to my biggest issue - the telling rather than showing. There are certain things that are automatically detrimental to my appreciation of a book, and this is one of them. I much prefer when I can glean the feelings and intentions of a character without them being outright explained to me through the author's narration. Dialogue's an important and essential tool for this, but it wasn't used here, not to its fullest potential. I would've much preferred had there been more quality time with the characters that mattered, with the inclusion of discernible development, instead of trying to fit in a confusing amount of people and relationships. I lost track of everyone that was named in the Nodding Hamlet, and wondered why the story often got side-tracked delving into the history of someone that didn't seem to play a critical role. Of course, switching between multiple perspectives can be done well, but in this instance, it didn't work for me and only caused a great deal of confusion.

If I had to pick a favourite character, excluding the non-human entities, it would be Beveridge, or perhaps even Law. The former gave the impression that he wasn't a normal human being, whilst the latter didn't strike me as a traditional bad guy. I agreed, to an extent, with his belief about humanity - as a species, we truly are destructive. Just think of the damage we'd do if we decided to settle upon another planet that already had an established ecosystem. Not worth thinking about, really! I would've probably liked to see more of Law's magic, or whatever he did to raise people from the dead.

In conclusion: In truth, I believe this is just a case of "this wasn't for me". I didn't hate it, but I couldn't love it either. My complaints lie with how it was written; a large amount of telling, as well as continually leaping around and not giving the main characters enough attention.

Notable Scene:

Emba swished his tail a little in amusement. He truly enjoyed listening to spoken language. Of course, he didn't offer a response. Perhaps he was unable to. Perhaps it was more fun not to. How curious it was that Evan and his kind had developed complex languages for communication, yet they couldn't communicate properly with each other. Their history was littered with conflict, war and atrocity. Some might say that language simply constructed a bigger platform upon which this species displayed its hidden, unshakeable faults.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/27/the-fallen-kind-vol-i-ghosts-of-nunchi-by-m-almelk
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-03 02:32
Morium by S.J. Hermann
Morium - Stephanie Needleson,Hermann S. Füeßl

Morium by S.J. Hermann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst walking home one night, Alexandria and Nathan catch sight of something crashing to earth - some form of rock. Letting their curiosity get the better of them, they decide to seek out the object, but little do they know their lives will forever be changed. Gaining supernatural abilities, they find themselves having the power to rise up against the anguish that dominates their daily life.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to S.J. Hermann for giving me the opportunity.

Having been bullied in school, this book instantly struck a chord with me. The sad thing is, everyone's bullied in one form or another during those supposed "best days of your life" - a term I constantly heard as a child. I'm a firm believer that whilst school is necessary, it's a toxic environment through and through. There will always be a pecking order, and those at the bottom will undoubtedly suffer. Hermann did a good job in depicting the misery in which Lexi and Nathan had to endure. The descriptive writing, despite containing a few errors, successfully communicated their array of emotions. I genuinely felt for them, especially Lexi and Stacy, who were the most likeable.

At first I did feel sorry for Nathan, and his downward spiral toward villainy - he experienced power for the first time in his life, something able to stop his daily torment. The temptation was just too great, the pull too strong. It makes sense that he'd direct his anger toward those who wronged him, or those that prey upon the weak, but my pity for him evaporated when his actions became too indefensible. This is where I'm going to address the elephant in the room, but first let me state that I've no issue with adult themes. Many of the books I read delve into the uncomfortable and extreme, so the subject matter itself isn't why I'm bringing this up. You see, being labelled as "young adult", I admittedly found the rape and sexual tones to be a bit much. There's no question that it was sexual abuse; not only did Nathan feel up both Lexi and Stacy against their wishes via mind control, he also used his mind to impose his will upon a teacher, his intention to lose his virginity to her right there in a classroom.

I've read other reviews, and none have mentioned this aspect. Hell, someone complained about the swearing and self-harm, which absolutely baffled me, when there's literal murder and rape. The tone of the book was thus exceedingly dark, I'd even say too dark for younger readers. But I get it, I do - Nathan was a teenager, having never explored his sexuality, and suddenly he became intoxicated with otherworldly power. It's not far-fetched to believe a teenager would do horrid things with that sort of ability, but it sets the book, as a whole, to a more mature level. I suppose this relates to the name of the book itself; "Morium" in Latin meaning "character" and "morals". Hermann creates two similar people with the same adversities, yet they go down very different paths.

Moving on from that main critique of mine, the plot itself kept a decent pace, yet at times I truthfully felt a little bored, but being a relatively short book, it was easy enough to get through and reach the parts that piqued my interest. "The Gift" certainly did hold my attention, specifically the voices in Nathan's head.

It was very obvious that it would have a sequel, possibly even a third book following, as nothing at all was concluded in the end. I was left wanting to read more, to find out what happens to Lexi, her father Robert, Stacy and even Nathan. I always appreciate when an author pulls me in, in such a way that I'll gladly carry on with the story after the initial instalment.

In conclusion - My interest wandered off at some points, but when it got down to it, I enjoyed it. It's however my opinion that the themes included are more adult than young adult.

Notable Scene:

As the dust settled over the ground, a streak of energy made its way to every root buried under the burnt soil. From the root hairs, to the secondary roots, the energy travelled through the epidermis, flowing through the xylem and phloem, making its way up the stems and filtering into the leaves. The cell structure of the plants and vegetation altered as the mysterious energy invaded each of the plant's individual cells. It was photosynthesis on steroids and the exchange took place within seconds.
Energy flowed through each wilted plant, bringing them back to life, stronger and healthier than ever. The once decimated twenty-five-square-foot area where the objects had fallen was now teeming with scores of new life.


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/03/morium-by-s-j-hermann
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text 2018-02-01 00:56
January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
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