Red Queen by Honey Brown

red queenLove, lust and rivalry…

😀 😀 😀 🙂

The time feels much like the present, but society has been destroyed by a lethal virus. The narrator, Shannon, is a young man living in isolation with his older brother, Rohan, in a well-stocked house prepared by their now-dead father for just such a contingency, since he always feared that one day disaster would strike humanity. It’s been months since they saw another person, but one day a young woman, Denny, appears at the farm and throws herself on their mercy. Suspicious at first, both men soon find themselves attracted to her, but it still seems as if Denny may be hiding a secret…

Shannon and Rohan have little in common except their fraternal love for each other. Shannon is trusting and sensitive while, on the exterior at least, Rohan is tougher and meaner. Denny is nicely ambiguous – while Shannon falls quickly in love with her, the reader is left never quite sure of her honesty and motivations. The story moves at a fair pace and leads up to an exciting and well-executed thriller ending.

I was a little disappointed that Brown raised a couple of interesting questions and then rather failed to follow them through. Early on, there’s some discussion as to where the virus originated, with the suggestion that it may have been some kind of biological warfare. This strand is then totally dropped – just never mentioned again as if the author had forgotten about it. She does exactly the same with religion – Shannon is an atheist, while Rohan is apparently a strict Christian. This is made much of at the beginning as if Brown may be going to develop how their approach to the disaster affects or is affected by their beliefs…but very soon it’s just allowed to fizzle out into nothingness.

The ambiguous Denny is very well-drawn, and her character really holds the book together. Her actions stretch credulity at points, but not beyond breaking point. The men are more problematic. The first-person narrative via Shannon read to me throughout as if it was a woman speaking (not helped by the fact that I think of Shannon as a female name), and I kept having to remind myself that he was a man. Rohan is a bully and a tyrant, but apparently beloved by all? Hard to convince me of that, I fear, and Brown didn’t.

Honey Brown
Honey Brown

The plot revolves around lust and sex, so there are a lot of fairly graphic sex scenes – occasionally edging towards rape scenes. Too much for my taste, to be honest. The men are universally portrayed as slavering sexual predators whose moral and ethical standards are dropped at the first sight of a female. But then Denny is no slouch in the sexual predator stakes herself. The sexual manipulation that goes on amongst all the ‘goodies’ rather dulls the impact of the behaviour of the ‘baddies’, I feel. The suggestion seems to be that some forms of sexual predation are worse than others – true, but that doesn’t make me feel like saying the less bad kinds are OK then.

In the end, the book has less depth than the early chapters promised, but overall it’s a well-written and readable tale of love, lust and rivalry in an isolated post-apocalyptic setting.



TBR Thursday 43…

Episode 43


There’s good news and bad news on the TBR front this week. First the good news – the list has dropped below 100! To a stunning 98 in fact, which only represents about ten months worth of reading. (Short pause while I sob…)

The bad news is that, in a moment of madness, I decided to see how many books are sitting unread on the Kindle that are not included in the existing TBR. The answer is 58. (Long pause while I howl and punch the walls…) So combining the two makes a total of…er…um…156. Or roughly a year and four months worth…

One day I must also go through the physical books and see what horrors lurk there (not to mention unlistened-to audiobooks)…but not today…

So the plan (go ahead, laugh!) is – no more than two NetGalley requests or other review copies a month – and no more than two added from temptations spread before me by my fellow bloggers. And no more than two purchases a month. That way I should be down to zero by…um…2020, roughly. Hands up all those who think I’ll stick to it – Ah! Just you, then, Ms Gullible…

Oh well, here are a few that have mysteriously snuck on since I last checked…



red queenA few weeks back, I read Orange Pekoe’s great review of this book and, in her comments section, bemoaned the fact that Honey Brown’s books aren’t available over here yet. (OP had been brought a copy by a visitor from Australia.) She straightaway offered to post her copy to me – isn’t that just the kindest thing? So thank you, Orange Pekoe – I’m very grateful and thrilled to have this one to read…

The Blurb saysShannon and Rohan Scott have retreated to their family’s cabin in the Australian bush to escape a virus-ravaged world. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there’s nothing he doesn’t know about his older brother, or himself – until a stranger slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns.

Reluctantly the brothers take the young woman into their fold, and the dynamic within the cabin shifts. Possessiveness takes hold, loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.

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the life i left behindCleo’s been at it again – her glowing review of this one on Cleopatra Loves Books left me with no alternative but to request it from NetGalley…

The Blurb saysFive years ago Melody Pieterson was attacked and left for dead. She coped by burying the person she was, locking away her memories and creating a new life for herself. Her attacker is behind bars. In four weeks’ time she will get married. She’s almost normal. Then the body of another woman is found, close to where Melody was discovered. Like her she has blond hair and green eyes. Like Melody police find a gold bird cage necklace at the scene. And Melody realises her attacker has been out there all along. The woman’s name is Eve Elliot. Melody sets out to discover everything she can about Eve to work out why they were targeted. But the more she gets to know her the more she realises what’s wrong with her own life. Eve may be dead but she’s the only person who can teach Melody how to live again.

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what galileo sawCourtesy of Cornell University Press via NetGalley. I’ve just started reading this one, and the first couple of chapters make me think it’s going to be a challenging but thought-provoking read…

The Blurb saysThe Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century has often been called a decisive turning point in human history. It represents, for good or ill, the birth of modern science and modern ways of viewing the world. In What Galileo Saw, Lawrence Lipking offers a new perspective on how to understand what happened then, arguing that artistic imagination and creativity as much as rational thought played a critical role in creating new visions of science and in shaping stories about eye-opening discoveries in cosmology, natural history, engineering, and the life sciences.

What Galileo Saw bridges the divide between science and art; it brings together Galileo and Milton, Bacon and Shakespeare. Lipking enters the minds and the workshops where the Scientific Revolution was fashioned, drawing on art, literature, and the history of science to reimagine how perceptions about the world and human life could change so drastically, and change forever. “

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what i found out about herCourtesy of University of Notre Dame Press via NetGalley (I love all these University Presses!). No reason for this one – I just liked the blurb. Hmm…stylistically daring…wonder what that means…

The Blurb saysWhat I Found Out About Her: Stories of Dreaming Americans, winner of the 2014 Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction, reaffirms Peter LaSalle’s reputation as one of the most startlingly original writers working in the short fiction genre today.

In this collection of eleven stories, LaSalle explores how everyday life for many—an FBI agent, a study-abroad student, a drug dealer’s chic girlfriend, a trio of Broadway playwrights, among others—can often take on something much larger than that, almost the texture of a haunting dream. Marked by stylistic daring and a rare lyricism in language, this is intense, thoroughly moving fiction that probes the contemporary American psyche, portraying it in all its frequently painful sadness and also its brave and unflagging hope.

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NB All blurbs taken from NetGalley or Amazon.

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?