My Notorious Life by Madame X | Kate Manning

My Notorious Life by Madame X by Kate Manning is the fictionalised account of the story of a midwife and abortionist in the Victorian era.

Notorious Life Manning‘In the end, they celebrated. They bragged.
They got me finally, was their feeling.
They said I would take my secrets to the grave.

They should be so lucky.’

Axie Muldoon, the headstrong daughter of Irish immigrants, forced to beg for pennies as a child on the brutal streets on New York City, grows up to become the most successful – and controversial – midwife of her time.

‘Saved’ from poverty by a well-meaning philanthropist, Axie is sent West with her brother Joe and her sister Dutch. But the kindness of strangers is short-lived and soon Axie returns to the city of her birth, separated from those she loves but determined to one day reunite her family.

When she is taken in by a Manhattan doctor Axie learns the craft that she will live by – and later fight for. As a purveyor of ‘lunar tonic for the relief of female complaints’ she rises from the gutter to the glitter of 5th Avenue high society, and discovers that the right way is not always the way of the church or the law, and that you should never trust a man who says ‘trust me.’ But what if that man is an irresistible risk-taker with a poetical Irish soul?

As Axie’s reputation grows she finds herself on a collision course with the crusading official who would be the righteous instrument of her downfall. It will take all of her power to outwit him and save both herself and those she loves from ruin.

This is a very powerful and often disturbing book.

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The Age of Ice | J.M. Sidorova

Ice SidorovaThe Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova is a literary fantasy novel and you should totally read it.

An epic debut novel about a lovelorn eighteenth-century Russian noble, cursed with longevity and an immunity to cold, whose quest for the truth behind his condition spans two thrilling centuries and a stunning array of historical events. The Empress Anna Ioannovna has issued her latest eccentric order: construct a palace out of ice blocks. Inside its walls her slaves build a wedding chamber, a canopy bed on a dais, heavy drapes cascading to the floor-all made of ice. Sealed inside are a disgraced nobleman and a deformed female jester. On the empress’s command-for her entertainment-these two are to be married, the relationship consummated inside this frozen prison. In the morning, guards enter to find them half-dead. Nine months later, two boys are born.Surrounded by servants and animals, Prince Alexander Velitzyn and his twin brother, Andrei, have an idyllic childhood on the family’s large country estate. But as they approach manhood, stark differences coalesce. Andrei is daring and ambitious; Alexander is tentative and adrift. One frigid winter night on the road between St. Petersburg and Moscow, as he flees his army post, Alexander comes to a horrifying revelation: his body is immune to cold.

J. M. Sidorova’s boldly original and genrebending novel takes readers from the grisly fields of the Napoleonic Wars to the blazing heat of Afghanistan, from the outer reaches of Siberia to the cacophonous streets of nineteenth-century Paris. The adventures of its protagonist, Prince Alexander Velitzyn-on a lifelong quest for the truth behind his strange physiology-will span three continents and two centuries and bring him into contact with an incredible range of real historical figures, from Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, to the licentious Russian empress Elizaveta and Arctic explorer Joseph Billings.

The Age of Ice is one of the most enchanting and inventive debut novels of the year.

Ooooooh this book give me the happys.

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As She Left it | Catriona McPherson

As She Left It by Catriona McPherson is a novel about the secrets of childhood set in a Leeds council estate.

Untangling the shame and sorrow on Mote Street

At the age of twelve, Opal Jones escaped her mother’s endless drinking and her life in Leeds, England. Returning to the small cottage on Mote Street after her mum’s death is like going back in time. Nosey Mrs. Pickess is still polishing her windows to a sparkle (the better to spy) and Fishbo, Opal’s ancient music teacher, is still playing trumpet. Then, Opal learns about a tragedy the neighborhood has never recovered from: the disappearance of three-year-old Craig Southgate. The sweet, red-haired child Opal once knew was kidnapped — and never seen again.

At first, unraveling the decade-old mystery is a fine distraction from Opal’s own ugly past. But teasing out her neighbors’ dark secrets begins dredging up uncomfortable memories of her own childhood – and a growing suspicion about little Craig’s fate.

This is an astonishing work of fiction.

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The Blue Blazes | Chuck Wendig

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig is an Urban Fantasy crime caper.

Meet Mookie Pearl.

Criminal underworld? He runs in it.

Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.

Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.

But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…

Well, um, wow.

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The Blind Assassin | Margaret Atwood

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is a story about love and regret told over a period of several years.

“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge”

More than fifty years on, Iris Chase is remembering Laura’s mysterious death. And so begins an extraordinary and compelling story of two sisters and their secrets. Set against a panoramic backdrop of twentieth-century history, The Blind Assassin is an epic tale of memory, intrigue and betrayal…

I can see how a book like this could be divisive. I can see how Margaret Atwood as a writer could cause a wild variety of opinions. But I can’t help it – I love her, and her writing.

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Wool | Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey is set in a post-apocalyptic world.

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

 Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

 To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism.

 Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside.

 Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

Review copy provided by Random House through NetGalley

A note: This is actually the Wool omnibus, collecting Novellas 1-5 of the series originally self-published by Howey. I’m new to the wonderful world of Wool, which is shocking considering my status as one of the main reviewers at In Case of Survival. However, it has a lot of what I like in a series – a female protagonist, a post-apocalyptic world, an assault against oppressive regimes. These things are my catnip. So, how does it pan out for me?

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The End of Everything | Megan Abbott

The End of Everything was sold to me by my good friend Scarlett Parrish describing it as ‘Lolita as written by Ruth Rendell.’ I started reading it as a reward for reaching 10k on my novel today, and didn’t stop till I was finished. Yes, it’s one of those.

Ultimately, The End of Everything is a story about the period directly following the abduction of a young girl, as told by her best friend. Complete with the sort of details about the hazy, dazy world of childhood and pubescence that only the unsentimental remember, it feels utterly honest and true. From the descriptions of the early stages of sexual development, to the simple, romantic imaginings of girls of that age, everything fitted neatly into a slot I know and remember well.

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