Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Lazarus Gate by Mark A. Latham

Titan Books are at the top of their game when it comes to crime mystery / historical fantasy tales and this new series from debut novelist Mark A. Latham is a stunning addition to that mixed genre of books. 

In London 1890, Captain John Hardwick has returned home from war after being held captive in Burma. The last thing he expects is to be recruited by a clandestine gentleman’s club to investigate a spate of anarchist bombings across the capital. He agrees, but what he uncovers is not merely a case of terrorism, but a supernatural threat of epic proportions to the British Empire. 

Plunged into a dangerous underworld of espionage, psychic powers and a secret war with an alternate universe, John must decide who to trust and who to fight in a treacherous battle for the world. 

His paths cross with a series of interesting characters, including an Artist whose pictures show the future, a band of gypsies (some of whom are more than they seem) and some diverse members of the mysterious Apollonian Club. John is quite a serious man and quite a stickler for the rules; even in the face of such peril, he is ever the gentleman and is several times heralded as the most honest man in London. I don’t think some of those traits always work in his favour but you cannot fault him for being a hero. 

The way that psychic abilities; visions and omens of fate, were introduced into the storyline were clever and played a great role in the overall storyline. With all the facets of this book; history, crime, fantasy, there was even a horror element added in with the inclusion of monsters from another realm which makes the tale even more exciting. 

There are a lot of characters and a lot of information thrown at you but with so much action the story keeps you engaged, so it is worth the extra concentration. There is plenty of misdirection and mystery that really captivates the reader and I especially liked the ending – I only hope that it is not too long until the next book! 

There is so much potential with this series and I really cannot wait to see what is in store for Captain John Hardwick and the fated city of London. Fantastically detailed, imaginative and genuinely exciting in parts, The Lazarus Gate is sure to be a crossover hit for fantasy, hist-fic and crime readers. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Three Year Blogoversary

Today marks the third anniversary of Bookshelf Butterfly. In this past year since my last blogoversary I quit my job and went travelling, got a new job on my return and have somehow still found time to continue blogging! 

Well, technically I did have a little break whilst overseas but during that period I still continued to read. I loved finding some gems in hostel bookshelves and was fascinated by what other travellers were reading. 

Since I’ve been back, I’ve noticed that I’ve become drawn to books featuring travel and significant personal journeys even more than before. I’ve found that books in far flung locations ease the craving for travelling, although on the other hand it does then add to places that I would love to visit! 

Over the last year I’ve managed to attend a couple of events this year; the Black Eyed Susans author meet-and-greet and the Headline Rooftop Book Club. I got to meet some lovely fellow bloggers at both – as nice as it is to have some great online relationships, it’s even nicer to meet some of those people in real life too! 

I’ve been trying to up my Features game by writing more articles alongside reviews and hopefully I’ll be able to participate in more blog tours with added extras over the coming months. I’m still aiming to read more diverse fiction as I feel there are some great stories out there from different cultures that might be getting the exposure they deserve. Having had a taste of translated fiction recently I would love to read more of that also. 

I still have my ups and downs with the blog but I am still very much enjoying it and have a few interesting things in the pipeline which I hope readers will like. I appreciate every book sent by generous publishers and authors, as well as all the recommendations that are added onto my book shopping list! I also love and appreciate every like, share, tweet and comment and am always working towards more of all the above! 

The biggest thanks as always go to readers of this blog; thank you for your continuing support and interest in Bookshelf Butterfly and I hope to keep you engaged with more reviews and book posts in the future.

* GIVEAWAY *


I have three books to give away to three lucky readers. The books up for grabs are Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and The Hunt by T.J. Lebbon – a selection of titles that I have particularly enjoyed this year. There are two ways to enter. 
1: Follow @booksbutterfly on Twitter, retweet any tweet about this giveaway and tweet me name of the book you would most like to win. 

2: Like my Facebook page and comment on a giveaway post with the name of the book you would most like to win. Easy peasy! 

Multiple entries are accepted and this giveaway is open internationally. Competition is open until midday Wednesday 30th September 2015 (GMT) and winners will be announced that day. Good luck to all entrants! 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

We all know of the infamous Sherlock Holmes but his older brother Mycroft lacks a lot of the literary spotlight. This historical crime fiction offering with Mycroft Holmes as the lead comes from the joint penmanship of NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and professional screenwriter Anna Waterhouse. 

Fresh out of University, Mycroft is well on his way to carving out a decent life for himself. He has secured a position working for the British government and foresees a bright future involving a nice house and fair haired children with his beautiful fiancée Georgiana, who he is head over heels in love with. 

He also has a very companionable friendship with tobacconist Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent who hails from Trinidad, where Georgiana was also raised. 

When both Cyrus and Georgiana hear troubling news from home of seemingly supernatural deaths of children, Georgiana abruptly leaves for Trinidad. Mycroft, accompanied by Cyrus swiftly follows and the pair soon become embroiled in a dangerous scandal that goes much further than the initial deaths they first thought they were dealing with. 

As much as I enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories, Sherlock is not the kind of character you can instantly warm to, and his brief appearances in this novel illustrate that point wonderfully. Mycroft has the great powers of deductions, quick mind and touch of arrogance that Sherlock is portrayed to have but he is much more likeable. 

Cyrus is very much a grounding character in this story, strong yet gentle natured; he balances out the impulsiveness of young Mycroft. Cyrus being black introduces the issue of race into the story and I liked the two men's relationship in the tale, despite the views of society. 

I enjoyed the mix of locations in this novel. From the chilly city of Victorian London across the sea to exotic Trinidad, Mycroft and Cyrus sniff out the mystery they have become so caught up in. It is quite a personal journey that Mycroft goes on, as well as a physical one, and he is definitely changed at the end of things. 

There were some really great characters in this tale, and although for me, the plot got a little complex in the middle, once Mycroft has unravelled the most of the puzzle, everything eventually settles into place. There is good humour to this tale, as well as a good old-fashioned crime conundrum to be solved and I really hope there is more in store for Mycroft and Cyrus from this talented writing duo. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You is the long awaited and eagerly anticipated sequel to the worldwide bestseller Me Before You. If you’ve not had the pleasure or need a refresher, Me Before You tells the story of Louisa Clark and Will Traynor. 

After losing her job, Lou takes an unexpected position as carer/companion to Will. An unlikely relationship develops and with the help of friends and family, Lou aims to bring happiness into Will’s recently altered life.

After You reunites the reader with loveable Louisa, the Clarks and the Traynors, as well as a new cast of diverse and likeable characters. With the introduction of a pivotal stranger, Lou’s life is changed in completely new and unforeseen ways. 

I think one reason why these books are so popular is the credibility of the characters. Lou is so real and I for one really identified with her; experiencing her rollercoaster emotions as she faces a range of situations. I love her family too; The Clarks are funny, entertaining and many readers can probably find a shred of resemblance to their own family. 

As with Me Before You, After You tactfully deals with a lot of life issues. There are romantic issues, family dramas, relationship tests, career worries and plenty more besides. Life is by nature quite unpredictable but also full of possibilities, and Louisa is faced with a number of varying dilemmas, some good and some not so good, in her continuing journey following the previous book. It is via Lou’s personal journey that the novel skilfully imparts wisdom and perspective, cleverly wrapped up in an addictive emotive story. 

I definitely think that you need to read Me Before You to get the best from After You but it will be completely worth the time, whether for Jojo Moyes newbies or established Jojo fans. For a bit of extra motivation, then consider that an adaptation of Me Before You hits screens next year starring Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter). 

I raced through this book in a day as I just had to know how it all ended. I’ve really tried not to give too much away so as not to spoil it for new readers but I wholeheartedly cannot recommend this story enough. Romance and laughs, tears and drama aplenty, After You is a charming, convincing read with characters you won’t want to forget. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Orkney Twilight - Extract

As part of the Orkney Twilight blog tour I have an exclusive extract of the book below to go with my review of this mysterious and thrilling debut by Clare Carson.
* * *

She inhaled the smell of damp soil, mould, decay, sensed the pressure of the stone and clay and earth pressing down on her.

‘Do you think the roof could cave in?’

‘It’s been here for three thousand years, so I don’t see why it should collapse now. Although it must be carrying a lot of weight.’

‘Oh Christ. Get a move on please.’

She pushed him forwards. He stumbled, caught himself with his hand, stood up, and she tumbled out behind into a reservoir of pitch darkness.

‘We’re in the womb,’ he said.

‘The charnel.’

He cast the pin-beam of light around, picking out the architecture of the central chamber: the corbelled layers of rough- hewn damp rocks curving above their heads, the void of the side chambers.

‘God it’s dark,’ Tom said. ‘What did you expect?’

‘It’s a deeper dark than I imagined. Not like a dark night.

It’s more dense, like being in a black hole.’

‘It is a black hole. We are in the house of the dead, the edge of oblivion. It takes twenty minutes for your eyes to fully adjust,’ she said, searching for comfort in science.

‘I’m not sure I’m prepared to wait that long. Do you think this is what it’s like to be buried alive?’

‘No.’ Her voice trembled slightly.

They were silent; listening to the chinks in the emptiness, the amplified rasp of their breath, the regular drip, drip of water coming from, where? Possibly one of the side chambers. She strained her ears, searching for audible signs of the external world. Somewhere in the distance there was a sharp metallic clink. She listened again, tried to pick out the note above the whispers of their breath in the damp air. But now there was nothing except the murmuring of the phantoms.

Tom handed her the torch. She shone it upward from under his chin, illuminating his face: a disembodied, ghostly head suspended in the dark.

‘We are gathered here,’ he intoned, ‘to bury the dead.’
His voice was eaten up, engulfed. And then it bounced back out of nowhere, a delayed echo: ‘Bury the dead. Bury the dead.

Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson

Today is my stop on the Orkney Twilight blog tour! There have been some fantastic posts so far including author interviews, extracts and reviews of this thrilling tale all about family secrets and undercover operatives. For my spot on the tour I have an extract of the book as well as my review.

Father of three Jim is an undercover policeman and has many a tall tale to tell, especially with the aid of a glass of whisky! Sceptical of his stories, youngest daughter Sam decides she wants to know more about her father’s activities.

On holiday in Orkney, a place which holds lots of childhood memories for her, Sam spies on Jim as he travels around the island meeting up with people and dropping cryptic clues linking his elusive past with current events. She is slowly drawn into a shadowy world of spies and shady organisations, and she soon realises that her mission for answers is not a simple as she first assumed.

Sam is a typical tenacious teenager and her relationship with her offbeat Dad is fully explored in the uncovering of not only his past, but criminal dealings with a much wider scope beyond her relatively normal life. The wild beauty of Orkney was a great atmospheric setting to do this, interspersed with the forays into city life back in London. Sam and Jim have an interesting dynamic, and with the mysteries thrown up by the ghosts of Jim’s past, it makes for a dramatic, multifaceted story that keeps you engaged.

The thing I liked most about the story was the inclusion of Norse mythology. Jim is something of a history buff and uses his code words to represent parts of Norse mythology which gradually come to light throughout the story. There are also some cool fact bites when Sam explores the island, with its stone circles and Viking history. My only criticism would be that I wish there was more of it!

It is clever that the story is set in the 1973; detective stories without the convenience of modern technology makes the fact finding and puzzle solving much more interesting to read – no Google to get some quick answers! Whilst reading, I kind of likened Clare Carson’s writing to that of Cathi Unsworth; mysterious and suspenseful with gritty characters in dark times racing towards the conclusion.

For a first novel, Orkney Twilight is a well written, gripping thriller that will have you puzzling and second guessing what you know as you follow a family’s journey for answers about friends, foe and most importantly each other. If this review has whetted your appetite, you can read an exclusive of the extract of the book here

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Hunt by T.J. Lebbon

Just as I bought this book, Channel 4 started running ads for a TV programme called Hunted where real life people are tracked down by professional hunters. The first episode was last night and it was so intense and this novel is equally as exciting. 

The Hunt also has the theme of hunting (as if you couldn't tell!) but the end game is that you are killed for sport. 

Fitness fanatic Chris returns from his morning run to find that his wife and two daughters have been abducted. He soon learns that a dangerous organisation known as The Trail have orchestrated a deadly hunt in which he is the prey for rich, twisted people to track and kill. He must participate and run or else his family will be executed. 

Unable to believe what is happening, he meets Rose, the only known survivor of The Trail who uses Chris in her own plot for revenge against the people that killed her innocent family. There’s no time to prepare yourself, as things happen hard and fast. 

Chris is an ordinary guy and his world is suddenly turned upside down leaving him almost helpless and unknowing who to trust. His averageness makes him so easy to sympathise with as he is in one of those situations where you never really know how you would react unless faced with it – which given the brutality of the premise is something you could never conceive of happening to you.

Seeing the hunt from both Chris and Rose’s perspectives, one newbie and one more in the know, adds lots of drama and pace to the story and you learn lots about each character, and also a little of the powerful organisation they are up against. 

As Chris sets off on the run of his life through the Welsh wilderness, you can almost share his emotions and his exhaustion as he pushes himself beyond his limits in the hope of saving his family. Fitness fans will definitely recognise what Chris goes through and everyone can sympathise with the lengths that both characters push themselves in the face of life or death. 

There is plenty of violence and gore, which is integral to the story and also great descriptions of the wild Welsh environment Chris is being tracked through. 

This story is well paced, intense and so gripping that you will race through the pages as if your life depended on it! The Hunt is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of a read that will have you on the edge of your seat right through to the end.   

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.’ – Ralph Lauren

Between Ireland, London and New York, The Dress by Kate Kerrigan weaves together the intertwining stories of three generations of women who are linked by one legendary garment. 

In 1950s New York, the beautiful socialite Joy Fitzpatrick is doing everything she can to make her husband happy and decides that a new dress will help her achieve this aim. She hires fledgling Irish designer Honor Conlon to design and make it for her. 

In modern day London, vintage fashion blogger Lily Fitzpatrick comes across the extraordinary story of The Dress and challenges herself to bring the iconic piece of fashion history back to life.This is not just a story about a dress, but also one of ambition, love and relationships. 

I really enjoyed the historical scenes set in the 50s; with the descriptions of the fashion and the elite society parties, there is a great sense of opulence and glamour which was a great stage for the emotional journeys of the main characters. The modern day bits are equally interesting with the glimpses of modern technology and the fashion industry alongside Lily and love for vintage couture. 

As for The Dress, it sounds like it would be a marvel of a garment. I have always liked textiles and although I’ll never be a fashion designer, I’ve always been interested by the construction of clothes. As Joy and Honor work on their beloved dress together, you can picture all the stunning elements that are carefully pieced together to create their life-changing dress. The descriptions are fabulous; rich silk, delicate lace, sparkling jewels, pretty pearls and twinkling sequins thoughtfully arranged for maximum wow factor. 

The way The Dress is re-imagined for the modern day scenes is thoughtfully written, as there is so much more emotion attached to the article. All the characters are so well defined and you can imagine them as people you might know in real life, making you care about the story even more. 

Fashion aside, the characters have some rollercoaster moments; tough relationships, betrayal, addiction and so there are lots of life lessons learnt. I think Joy was my favourite character; she’s beautiful and seemingly lives a dream life, but she is actually a complex character and it is only a matter of time before her issues catch up with her. 

With striking imagery, interesting characters and a stunning storyline, The Dress is a moving novel clashing the past with the present in an unforgettable story of couture and destiny. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Hallow Point by Ari Marmell

In an alternative 1930s Chicago, Private Detective Mick Oberon is set on the trail of the mythical Spear of Lugh. It is said that whoever carries the spear can never be defeated in battle, and so inevitably he is not the only party after such an elusive artefact. 

Its seekers include mobsters, members of the Seelie and Unseelie courts and a mysterious agent of the Wild Hunt. Faced against such competition, you’d think Mick has his work cut out for him (which he does) although he has some tricks of his own, including his trusty wand (him being Fae and all). 

Add to that the surly cops breathing down his neck and a beautiful but elusive woman thrown into the mix, Mick has to use all his wiles to solve the mystery and keep himself on the good side of the many parties involved. 

This is the second Mick Oberon job (book) and I haven’t read the first one, but they stand alone well enough and you get the gist of the magical underworld that has been set up. Mick is certainly a unique character. He is a very clever and witty and his narration is styled to fit the times with his all American 1930s slang. If you’re not used to it, you have to concentrate to understand the way he speaks, but it makes his character and his story all the more original, and he was very easy to like. 

Even though I think he’s fair, I kind of imagined him as the actor Josh Brolin; stalking the streets in his overcoat and fedora, gruffly narrating (and generally bitching) about his latest case. There are a lot of characters to get to grips with, human and otherworldly alike, so another reason to pay attention, but definitely worth the extra brain power. 

The mix of 1930s mobsters and criminal underworld with magic and Faerie mythology is genius and makes for a incredibly entertaining story in a concept well put together. The mythological, magical parts in no way detract from the action, and there is plenty of mystery, violence and criminal activity to satisfy any hardboiled crime fan. 

PIs always make for interesting characters; thrown into a convoluted, often life threatening conundrum and this definitely rates highly in the originality stakes. Exciting and entertaining, action packed and pacy, Hallow Point is a genre-defying novel bursting with crime and fantasy that will be a great treat for adventurous readers. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Love & The Goddess by Mary Elizabeth Coen

Food and travel have always been two of my passions, and especially since my own Asian adventure earlier this year, I’m even more drawn to books involving life changing personal journeys. 

Kate Canavan’s journey begins following the breakdown of her marriage and a health scare. Kate and her friends travel to Brazil to visit a healer and then onto Peru for spiritual guidance from the native gurus there. 

Hoping to rediscover the strong woman she is, how to love and also how to forgive, Kate has lots to learn. When she returns home to Ireland, plenty happens for her to put her new found wisdoms into practice. 

Kate has a strong appreciation for art and mythology, and it is the Goddess theme, not just from Greek mythology, but from a range of cultures which inspires Kate in multiple aspects of her life. One myth that really speaks to her is the Triple Goddess Myth featuring Persephone, Demeter and Hekate, and Kate seems to go through stages reflecting each mythical woman as she lives out her own journey. I have an interest in mythology myself so I really enjoyed those parts of the story. 

The travel aspect of this book is detailed and an integral part of the story. The descriptions of Brazil and Peru give you a real sense of the people that live there and the religion and spirituality of those places are thoroughly explored. There is something quite calming about reading scenes of meditation, ritual and reflection that I real enjoyed. 

Kate is a culinary teacher and so food is another ingredient of this novel that I loved. It describes not only the tastes of Brazil and Peru, but also Kate’s innate passion for food whether eating out or cooking at home, all of which makes for some mouth-watering paragraphs! 

Kate is a relatable lead; her trials and tribulations on online dating were fun and at times all too true, and you really feel for her throughout the story. She is joined by a cast of equally relatable and/or interesting characters, not all likeable, but each has a part to play in the story. 

This book definitely has an Eat Pray Love vibe to it, so Love & The Goddess is definitely one to try if you enjoyed that book. There are so many parts to this story to connect with; food, travel, religion and spirituality, romance and relationships, and all these elements have been woven together effectively into a genuinely engaging story.