Life with two Smalls and a fistful of daydreams

Review Tour

You may remember I was part of the big cover reveal for Gustavo Florentin’s The Schwarzschild Radius back in August, well now it’s time for the Review Tour too.


The Schwarzschild Radius by Gustavo Florentin

Cover Artist: Andrea Garcia

Series: N/A

Re-Released: Curiosity Quills Press, September 23rd 2014

Edition: Kindle

Narrated By: N/A

Genre: Detective, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where Did I Get It? I received an electronic copy of the book as part of the review tour.

Summary: Rachel, an 18-year-old Columbia University student, descends into the netherworld of runaways and predators to find her sister, Olivia, who has suddenly disappeared.

After getting a job in a strip joint where Olivia worked, then doing private shows in the homes of rich clients, Rachel discovers that Olivia has been abducted by a killer who auctions the deaths of young girls in an eBay of agony.

When she finds Olivia, Rachel becomes the killer’s next target.

Opening Line:

Ancient Greek philosophers used a face-slapping technique to ingrain a point in the student’s mind; here, it conveyed the truth that the girl was going to die.

My Review: You can tell straight from the blurb that The Schwarzschild Radius isn’t going to be a rollercoaster of laughs but it is certainly a rollercoaster. Not one for the faint of heart, either.

The very first chapter sets the scene in a way that clearly lets you know that Olivia is in big trouble and not the sort that is easily solved. The Webmaster is cool, collected and utterly merciless as he displays Olivia like a prize cow and encourages the bids in on whatever forms of pain and torture the clients desire – highest bidder gets to choose the next move. There is no limit to the depravity – it is whatever the clients can imagine up, so long as they pay then the Webmaster will arrange it and film it for them. The final stage of the auction comes when the girl can take no more and then they bid on who gets to choose how she dies.

Most of the story is told from Olivia’s sister Rachel’s perspective as she desperately tries to follow her sister’s last known footsteps and finds herself in places she never thought she’d see and doing things she never thought she would do. But desperation can give you courage and Rachel sets her limits and sticks to them, giving herself the chance to dig up some secrets from the dirty minded men who may well have been the last people to see Olivia alive.

Rachel is a great character, she is intelligent and well-grounded and doesn’t easily slip into her sister’s secret second life. She has major reservations about what she is capable of and has very natural reactions to the situations she finds herself in. There is a heavy weight of fear over the whole book but perhaps mostly in the chapters from Rachel’s view – she knows why Olivia was doing what she was doing but it is not a world Rachel is naturally equipped to survive in.

Detective John Mckenna is running the missing person case on Olivia. He is ex-army and was an excellent sniper – this makes him excellent at spotting tiny details that other people overlook but can make him seem very detached when he really gets into a case. His own marriage fell apart after he left the army and he hasn’t seen his own daughter for years so Olivia’s case really strikes a chord with him and he goes all out to solve the case.

Focused as he was, I didn’t find McKenna a particularly striking character. He was key in the end but most of the footwork seemed to be done by Rachel, almost to the point where I forgot he was around at times.

There are other viewpoints in the book, mostly of the men Rachel finds herself performing private strip shows for. These men are mostly lonely and sad, they are all rich enough to afford these shows and to tip in the hundreds but they all share a similar taste – they like their girls underage. Rachel spends most of her time pretending to be a fourteen year old to satisfy their primal urges – and the chapters written in their voices, explaining their feelings about their desires and the like are deeply unsettling. They all sound rational and normal aside from their disturbing fantasies about children – more than fantasies in some cases.

It is not an easy subject matter but Gustavo Florentin handles it brilliantly – you feel uneasy but never to the point of putting the book down. Instead some of the most engaging and interesting characters are the ones you want to hate because of their depravity. There is some very clever characterisation and it makes for some very compulsive reading, The Schwarzschild Radius was incredibly hard to put down and stayed on my mind whenever I stopped reading and well after I finished the book.

There are some very graphic scenes and it is not for anyone with a delicate disposition but as a look into the darker side of humanity and a cleverly twisting mystery thriller it is a fantastic read. I thought I had it all worked out but was proved completely wrong at the last turn, something I love in a book.

My Rating: 5/5*

If you want to read The Schwarzchild Radius for yourself, head on over to the Curiosity Quills website. Check out some of the other great books they have released recently whilst you’re there.

cbaC‘The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness’

This series was pegged as ‘the next Harry Potter’ at one point and although it never hit that level of fame and success I hold it in similar regard in my heart.

Set in Europe in the Stone Age, this series follows a boy called Torak and his friends Renn and Wolf (who is an actual wolf and an occassional narrator of the story) as he tries to find and defeat a group of evil clan mages known as the Soul Eaters.

This is my kind of historical fiction. It has lots of animals (including wolves, my very favourite of all), bows and arrows, flint knives, snow, forests, magic, mystery, excitement, friendship, love, fear, fire… the list is endless. The fact that it is set in almost-familiar surroundings makes it somehow more magical – I know the types of trees and many of the animals but everything is slightly different because of the timing making it feel almost ethereal at times.

The strong theme of spirits and magic is very clever because it doesn’t feel like Harry Potter magic at any time, it feels natural and ‘real’ because it is so firmly rooted in the characters lives and traditions – as we know it was back there. Little things like thanking a creature when you kill it and respecting it by using everything from it and leaving a small portion of meat out as an offering to their clan animal also. They believed they had to do these things or else face retribution and so it is so – magic? Who knows but that is how people lived for centuries, and still do in some respects. It is a very clever balance between fantasy and reality and it totally captured my imagination.

Essentially a coming-of-age series, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness captured my imagination and shaped my own writing for months – I loved the depth of the world. Michelle Paver did limitless research and it showed in her work and inspired me to put more effort into my own writing – I had never been much of a researcher before, more of a wing-it-and-hope girl, but after this series I changed my habits for the better.

The covers are also beautiful. I have nearly the entire series in hardback and all of them have this set of cover style – they are richly coloured, distinctively coloured and subtly textured. They are deliciously strokable – one of my favourite sets of covers ever. Even if I hadn’t been a fan of the writing I would probably have bought them just to look (and feel) pretty in my book collection!


 Tomorrow on CFHW…

Review Tour



We took GB’s hutch to my parents’ house today. He is very definitely gone now.

270sepYesterday I made jam for the first ever time, I was pleased to find that it had set by this morning and it is really tasty too. Yay!

271sepSometimes they fight like demons but despite it all they are best friends at heart. They walked most of the way home holding hands today and it was just so adorable, I couldn’t help but just walk behind them grinning like a fool.

272sepI met this very sweet little kitten on my walk home from dropping the kids off today. It was very cute but did manage to fall off the wall at one point and I had to rescue it!

273sepTori got sent home from school yesterday with a bad tummy so she had to stay off today although she seemed fine in herself. We took a trip to the Nature Reserve for a Forest School session together – here Tori is doing some bark rubbing… and Arthur is colouring in a dead twig with some chalk.

274sepI got a new set of stampers today and one of them was a moustache – this was inevitable really!

275sepWe surprised the Smalls with a trip to see Mike the Knight at Warwick Castle today. They loved it last year and again this year – I do like Warwick Castle even though it is wickedly expensive. We used the vouchers off the cornflakes to get in this time so we only had to pay for the kids.

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Coming soon on CFHW…

Review Tour

cbaB‘Burial Rites’

 Back at the start of this year the House of Blog Book Club took me out of my reading comfort zone with Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites.

Nothing like what I would usually pick up, but with a beautiful cover and intruiging title, I used my monthly Audible credit to purchase the unabridged audio copy so I could listen whilst I went about the housework.

6a00d8341c674653ef01a3fcf4c492970b-320wiI reviewed Burial Rites after I finished it and said that images from it haunted me – they still do several months later. The writing was so stunning – stark and lyrical in equal measure. I have rarely come across books written in such a way that I am so completely lost in them – I could hear, smell, taste and see everything she described throughout the book and I found myself almost feeling homesick after it was finished because I felt I had been there for the duration of the story.

Listening to Burial Rites on my phone shoved in my back pocket meant that I was utterly transported – more than once I found myself paused mid-task, tense as I listened to some drama unfold – flinching when something startled me. Or else crying unashamedly as I shoved washing into the machine as I felt the utter despair of the characters.

There was a lot of despair in this book – it is based on the true story of the last few months of a convicted murderer in Iceland. The last person to be beheaded for a crime.

There is no room for hope when you know there is an ending like that – usually hope carries a story but in this case it was the inevitable horror of the ending that kept you crashing through the story which was a beautifully clever mixture of fiction, carefully researched history and genuine extracts of text from the case.

It was smooth and heartbreaking and haunting and I am so very glad I chose to join in with the book club that month because it is a book that will stay with me for a long time to come and I will almost definitely revisit.

Even if you aren’t into historical fiction, I suggest picking this book up. But keep the tissues handy.


Coming soon on CFHW…

Review Tour

If you follow Liberty or I on Twitter (or Facebook), you may have noticed us trying to get you to follow the Augurdale accounts over there.

Augurdale is our latest project together and it is a lot of fun – it is a book series set in a town hidden away in the north of England called, you guessed it, ‘Augurdale’. The town is a little out of place in the modern day but that is probably something to do with the residents being somewhat unusual – Liberty explains more about it in this post.


We are working on the website (there will be something there eventually, honest!) and the books are well in progress but currently the best way to get to know what Augurdale is about is to follow on Facebook and Twitter. These accounts are run in character and are meant to give you a bit of a peek into the Augurdale world of mythical beasts and legendary creatures.

Both of the accounts are run by a brownie called Edith Barker – a friendly, bubbly Fey girl who runs the PR office for the town and has a penchant for honey and porridge. She keeps you updated with events going on in the town, special offers on in businesses, best buys at the local market and reminders about school holidays as well as other bits of news and information – both serious and fun.

This daily feed helps to give you an insight to what is in the town as well as who lives there (and, more importantly, what lives there) and it also feeds you little clues and hints to what is to come in the book series. People mentioned in the tweets will come in to the books and so will the places.

By following the Twitter and Facebook feeds you get to immerse yourself in the world of Augurdale and play along – Outsiders aren’t really allowed in but if you follow on the social media you become an honourary citizen and have free reign to ask questions and even release your inner mythical beast if you so desire.

The feeds will also let you know when the website gets updated – there are some short stories in the making to whet your appetite and there will be profiles of the main characters to help you know who’s who and other bits of information about the books as and when they are released.

Edith awaits your company online – today marks a big festival in Augurdale so everybody is out and about. It’s Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox and the festival of harvest and the long nights drawing in is well underway.

There is an altar set up in the Temple Gardens for citizens to leave their harvested offerings, celebratory community meals are planned for lunch time AND dinner, there is music and dancing, meditation sessions and story telling – a bit of everything for everyone. The Werewolves usually go for a midnight run and the fairies, nymphs and dryads will be leading the dancing so you just know it will be spectacular fun.

Please come and join us on Facebook and Twitter and join in the fun, see you there!

262sepAfter losing GB yesterday, we buried him in my parents’ garden today. Tori was very brave, giving him a last brush and tucking him into his box and writing his name on the top before putting in his grave and decorating it with pretty stones. Afterwards we went to a friend’s 50th birthday party which was a good way to cheer ourselves up :)

263sepI ordered two lucky dip shirts in the latest QwerTEE sale and they arrived today – I am very pleased with what I got: Star Wars & Frozen – perfect!

264sepAfter school today we all headed to the park together for some play time :)

265sepTwo tired bunnies today so they flopped out on the sofa to watch Frozen together when we got home.

266sepWhenever TBAM does a sleepy child shot it is peaceful and beautiful and sweet – the one time I try and do it? Arthur is asleep like this.

267sepI spent today asleep because I have been feeling ill for the last few days and today knocked me out totally. I got up in time to have a shower and walk to collect Tori from school and I wore my new t-shirt to cheer myself up. I fell asleep again after the walk!

268sepSaturday afternoon tech-time!


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Coming soon on CFHW…

Review Tour

cbaA‘Animal Ark’

When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet and I am fairly certain that this was largely down to this book series and my obsession with watching Animal Hospital. (I fairly quickly adapted this ambition to wanting to own a pet shop as I have neither the steady hands nor the stomach required to be a vet… I live behind a pet shop now so I’ve almost made it, right?)

I discovered Lucy Daniels’ Animal Ark series one Christmas when my Gran gave me a copy of Cub in the Cupboard (AA#8) as a present. I immediately loved it just because the cover was adorable (there have been several re-editions since, and none of them have been as nice) and because, well, it’s a book.

cupboard_aaI devoured it – laughed and cried in the appropriate places – then promptly read it again. And again. And again. I wanted to be Mandy, the main character because nothing sounded more amazing than being the daughter of two vets, living in a house that connected to their own vet surgery (called Animal Ark) in the beautiful English countryside. Her life was spent surrounded by animals both wild and domestic which was my idea of heaven (still sounds pretty good if I’m honest).

From that point on I asked for the rest of the series for birthdays and Christmases and whenever I got book vouchers or was allowed a book as a treat I went for the Animal Ark books. I had an audiobook of one, and all the ones I didn’t own I borrowed from the library and read instead. I was obsessed.

After a while the adventures expanded to Mandy’s holidays on safari in Africa and around America, there were two or three ‘spin off’ series and several ‘Specials’ at Christmas and the like. I think there was even an Animal Ark magazine and TV series in the end but I always liked the original books the best.

I found out when I got older that Lucy Daniels is in fact lots of different people. The series is the baby of Ben M. Baglio but he didn’t write all of them – they are written by many different authors under the Lucy Daniels pseudonym which explains how there are SO MANY of them! I still have all my copies (well, my parents still have them actually…) and I hope that Tori and Arthur enjoy them as much as I did when they get around to reading them.

I still have lingering desires to own a black and white goat called Houdini after reading Goat in the Garden




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