How To Stop Time by Matt Haig #BookReview #BookAtBedtime

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“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love, ‘ he said… ‘There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'”

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

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star three and a half

How to Stop Time is the first audiobook ever that I completed. I think the narrator, Tom Hollander, had as much to do with it as the story itself because his smooth velvety voice was wonderful to listen to and and made the story interesting and come alive through his different voices.

Tom Hazard tells his life story in How to Stop Time and it’s not one I’ve ever heard before. My god this man has seen it all, lived it all and now I felt like I had the privilige to hear it from someone first hand. This is someone’s intriguing life history that I became privy of, hearing it from him first hand instead of from the history books. It makes all the difference!

Tom Hazard is a man who looks like he’s about 41 but is more than 400 years old in reality. He has a rare condition that makes him visibly age one year for every 15 years that pass. Should we be envious of him though? He has to change locations every 8 years because it would become awkward otherwise and people could remark that he’s not changing, and what about love? If you happen to find love and you know that person will be taken from you, that will inevitably become a burden to bear and I don’t know who suffers most from it in the end.

I was transported into time, even going so far back to a time where witchhunts were real, a time where Tom meets historical characters and can tell first-hand about how it was to meet the icons of that time. Tom doesn’t see his condition as a gift however but he has promised two people to keep on living and so he does. But the secret society has made him promise not to fall in love. The heart can’t stop time either but he’ll have learned a valuable lesson in the end about life and living.

I’m not normally one to read historical reads and I don’t know if I would have appreciated the novel as much if I would have read it but as an audiobook this really was interesting and it just really worked. I’ve decided to rate this novel with 3.5 stars though because even when I liked it so much and I even contemplated a 4 star rating at first, I don’t see myself rereading or listing to this book again in the end, so that’s why I’m settling on the current rating. If historical fiction is your genre however then definitely check it out, you’ll find it very enjoyable.

I listened to this audiobook on BBC Radio4 – Book At Bedtime. 


The Intruder by P.S. Hogan #BookReview

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William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in when the owners are out. But what will happen if he gets caught?

What will he do next?

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star three and a half

William Heming seems like a righteous man at first but looks can be oh so deceiving and don’t I love it!  That hidden side of people is so fascinating to discover and what’s better than a voyeuristic side of one’s personality to explore? His voyeurism doesn’t apply to people though, there’s no funny business, but he likes to look at people’s lives and homes.. the things that really tell a story about them. Now if you’re following the voyeur around, do you become one yourself then too :-)? I must assume so. I didn’t really mind slipping inside and looking into the houses myself so hmm maybe everyone has a little bit of that side in him or her and that’s why this novel is so fascinating?

It’s actually quite funny how Heming thinks of himself as a ‘concerned citizen’ and a model for the community and succeeded so well in making me wonder if he’s really bad or just someone harmless with a few quirks. I wouldn’t find it okay either if people didn’t pick up their dog’s poo or would damage a car’s mirror and just leave without taking responsibility for it. He wants to do something about it and even though it is wrong in every way I couldn’t help but feel somehow relieved someone wanted to right a wrong.

That feeling diminished however the further I went into the story and I realised he really had a nasty side. It’s not that Heming became unhinged because his personality never really changes throughout the novel, he is who he is, but while he cleverly holds up the façade for his co-workers, I became more intimate with his true self and he’s so creepy in his ways of addressing the reader and stating what the obvious for him, defending his ways as if they are normal.

I am simply sharing an experience, a life as it happens. Think of me as an invisible brother or uncle or boyfriend. I’m no trouble. I may be there when you are, or when you’re gone, or more likely just before you arrive. I agree it is an idea that takes some getting used to.

The novel slowly reveals not only what an oddball he is but also how his actions of spying on people, of lurking in the shadows and tresspassing started in his childhood. The author goes back and forth and while he’s trying to convince me of his harmlessness his childhood is slowly starting to make me doubt him.

His actions and his focus of attention become highly worrying, both for him as for his mark, a girl he lays eyes on and he’s smitten with from the moment he sees her red cape, just like Little Red Ridinghood. What he doesn’t see though is that he would be the Big Bad Wolf :-). I can’t tell you how the plot evolves but it does get a bit out of hand and dangerous and he’ll have to try to jump through a lot of hoops to keep himself the unsuspicious guy he’s been for most of his life. The ending did feel a tad anticlimatic for me because I expected maybe an extra twist as a final topping on an ice sundae but it wasn’t a bad ending per se. It makes you think even more about what you don’t know that is going on under your own nose.

This was a great unsettling read, very character-driven, and Heming was fascinating to read about. He felt quite real and his way of talking to the reader directly didn’t miss its effect.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Widow by Fiona Barton and The Confession by Jo Spain #BookReviews

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What’s it about?

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

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The Widow is a story about what recently widowed Jeanie has got to say about her husband after he died. Her husband was suspected of kidnapping a little girl named Bella and a few days after he’s passed away she opens the door to reporter Kate and agrees to an interview. Before we get to the interview we get flashbacks to when it all began, the day that little Bella went missing and everything that happened afterwards which made her husband a suspect.

The Widow isn’t full of twists and turns and didn’t send a thrill or even shivers through my body but I was invested in the investigation even if I willed them sometimes not to be shortsighted. This was mostly a police procedural type of book for me and partly a character driven novel about Jean’s marriage with a very domineering man. Jean herself is a woman with little personality and not the most likeable character either despite what she had to endure with that husband of hers.

I expected a bit more from the ending as well, once we finally got to what I was waiting for, it was over very soon. Overall an okay read but I missed a bit of twists and turns and I’m not sure these slow burning type of books are really my cup of tea.

If you like this one you’re certainly going to like The Confession too!

I bought a copy of this novel at full price. This is my honest opinion.


The Confession def

What’s it about?

You find out who did it on the very first page. On the last page, you’ll find out why. 

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

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star three and a half

It’s actually kind of funny but one of the reasons I was attracted to this novel was because I thought it was a very orginal starting point for a novel, giving up the person responsible right from the start, and yet I was still kind of waiting for the twist. Deep down I wouldn’t have been surprised if he – the killer who came forward – retracted his story or that he didn’t do it at all. It’s so silly that I’m conditioned like that when it comes to reading thrillers. Another thought I had was that it would have been some kind of a hesaid/shesaid story, where you have to find out who’s telling the truth about what happened but it was not like this, it’s actually pretty straightforward from the beginning.

The Confession is told through 3 POV’s: the detective, the victim’s wife Julie and the attacker JP. The main goal is to find out WHY. JP confessed but he told the detective he didn’t know the man, so what could possibly be his motive then?

To know this we go back to the very beginning, to when Julie met her husband in college and to JP’s miserable childhood. His mother was an alcoholic who always fell for the wrong guys, there was abuse and neglect and JP had to take care of his sister and see he could feed them both. It was very easy to start sympathizing with him, even after I read a really gruesome and violent opening chapter where he just bashed someone with a golf club. On the other side I found it harder to sympathize with Julie and her enigmatic husband. Julie’s weak and they are both money-grabbing people.

I was still interested in the why of it all but it was becoming harder to care for the victims. Slowly the net tightens and this is where the really good part started for me, when it finally becomes clear what made them cross paths. It’s even getting better when Julie has a confrontation with JP to find out for herself. That conversation between the two of them was highly entertaining and absolutely gripping! It really ends on a high note and I did feel oddly satisfied with the way the story went and was concluded.

If you like this one, I recommend you read The Widow too!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.

Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister #BookReview

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What’s it about?

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

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star three and a half

How well can you really know someone? Everything But The Truth focuses on trust, what it can do to you if your trust is broken and how the smallest of lies told can spiral entirely out of control. Rachel tries to uncover a secret she is convinced Jack is keeping from her. Rachel is very condemning but at the same time she seems to have her own secrets to hold close to her heart. I really liked her own backstory, I was really drawn to those parts of the novel about her work in the hospital. I really looked forward returning to those every time, but even though I came to understand her and I sympathized with her at first, I felt she was being a bit hypocritical as the story progressed because she of all people should know better. You might want to hold up a certain image of yourself but if you can’t be yourself in a relationship and not share your burdens, who are you kidding then for the next 30 years?

Everything But The Truth was an easy and enjoyable read with short chapters, but I was expecting a real thriller and this is a character-driven novel that I could describe as an exploration of the relationship of a young couple and their discovery that nobody is really perfect.

The novel is thought-provoking and you won’t be able to resist questioning your morals and conscience regarding Jack and Rachel.

I received a free copy of this novel from the author. This is my honest opinion.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera #BookReview

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What’s it about?

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

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star three and a half

Well we both know how this book will end, no surprises there :-). If you’re looking for an epic ending and a long drawn-out moment of feelings of loss and grief, then you won’t find it here though. They Both Die at the End is definitely more about the journey and the message the author is trying to convey than how they meet their end, even if it’s something I couldn’t help but to feel curious about. The author was clever enough to create some moments in the novel that could be pivotal to their destiny and were potentially dangerous. Who would go first? Or would they die together? My heart rate increased a few times only to come to the conclusion it wasn’t their time yet.

In this alternate reality Silvera created in this novel for the year 2017 there is no explanation why a 17 year old and an 18 year old were chosen to die and fortunately they don’t dwell on it either, both are just trying to make the best of their last day, their End Day. I don’t know how the Death-Cast stystem works, only that it does so flawlessly and it delivers the message through a call (and a confirmation by email) a little after midnight that your time on earth is coming to an end. I wished the why and how was a little more explained, like why they call people who’ll die that day are called Deckers, but I chose not to dwell on it either and it didn’t really work against the story so it was okay that some things were left a mystery.

Mateo and Rufus were complementary characters but also opposites and you know what they say about opposites, right? I guess that’s why they just clicked. Mateo is a quiet boy, he doesn’t have many friends and no social life to speak of, he likes it ‘safe’. For his End Day  he wants someone to help him have a great last day though and Rufus, or Roof as his friends call him, is perfect for making him break out of his sheltered life. He’s a bit of a trouble-maker, impulsive and extravert but he’s got a golden heart really. They start out as two total strangers – scared to meet even because the other one could just as well be a a killer end their End Day could be over real soon – but they become closer and closer as their time runs out.

This novel is a bit morbid but in a good way. They Both Die at the End really talks about death all through the novel. I expected ‘their shannanigans of the day’ to take over and push their destination to the background a bit but that wasn’t the case, it’s not hidden in a little corner and the story doesn’t let you forget any given moment but even so, it never gets depressing.

I admire Silvera’s intention to deliver a heartfelt message about seizing the day and making every moment count. The novel is certainly thought-provoking, it’s sad but I had a few laughs as well. It’s surprisingly light, even if there’s no escaping reality.

This was an enjoyable novel but it wasn’t as deep and emotive as I needed it to be. I didn’t cry, I didn’t sob in the end even though I felt something for the characters, it just wasn’t as heart-wrenching as I thought it would be. I got the message loud and clear though.. I’m so much like Mateo and I’m going to need a Rufus 🙂

The Sacrifice by Alec Caruso #BookReview

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What’s it about?

London, England. Dr. Ted Conway has committed suicide. A case that should be easily closed.

After a forced break, Detective Inspector Rei Yoshima is thrust back into work, overseeing the suicide of Dr. Conway, only to discover that things with this case is not what it seems to be.

Trying to determine the unforeseeable truths from hidden lies, clues start finding their way together. As the case begins to unravel, it forces Yoshima into a whirlwind of discoveries, sending her to Cologne, Germany.

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star three and a half

The Sacrifice is the first novel in an exciting new detective series and the story flicks between two different teams of detectives, each one operating in another country. DI Rei Yoshima is partnered with newbie Liam Nolan at The Criminal Investigative Department in London and 500 miles further Müller and Morgan work for the Cologne Police Department. While this might seem plenty to follow, the chapters are short and snappy so it turned out to be easy to read instead and wasn’t confusing at all. Müller and Morgan are investigating the deaths of a man and a woman found murdered in their apartment. Yoshima and her partner’s investigation into a suspicious death puts them into contact with their colleagues in Germany and before you know it they have joined forces which created a good dynamic for the story.  I still felt that Yoshima was the real lead detective of the foursome though, the one who brings the most input to the table and she’s the one to be reckoned with the most. The investigation progressed logically and was well-paced. It defiantly let the story flow nicely when the investigators get new ideas and continually follow up on new leads.

The plot had me second guessing for the largest part of the novel and was well thought out. A few details were relevant but it was impossible to detect their importance to the plot. All through the story I was wondering what those newspaper articles and references to Syria have to do with the story but the truth is only slowly revealed. The Sacrifice also ends with a satisfying climax. I love it when everything starts to fall into place. In the final 30 pages I was hit by a whirlwind of revelations and actions and I kept thinking there wouldn’t be enough pages left to wound the story up but the author left no loose ends, safe one or two. You see, all through the novel Yoshima seems to operate at the back and call of a man called Gabriel, a shady criminal type. It is however never explained who he is or why he has such a hold on her, which only makes me wonder even more what their story is and yes, it’s perfect to make me want to read the second book in the series to find out.

I did feel the blurb didn’t give much away and the cover jacket of the novel is even shorter so I really didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately this caused me to leave this book lying around way too long and I’m almost ashamed to say that I picked The Sacrifice up twice before I finally started reading it. Every time I started it I put it back down again when I flipped it open to the first page and saw the opening chapter of a newspaper article reporting about the Syrian refugee crises. I want to read so I can escape everyday’s misery and that must be why I wasn’t really attracted or captivated from the start, but I can reassure everyone that there’s no politics involved and it turned out to be a different and better story than I expected so we really started on the wrong footing and I urge everyone who has The Sacrifice in their hands not to pin it down to that first chapter. Overall I can conclude this was a good read and credible debut.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the author (you can also read the guestpost I posted earlier here). This is my honest opinion.

Exposure by Tracy Ewens #BookReview

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What’s it about?

If only life were as simple as smiling for the camera.

After years of braving the Arctic’s frigid temperatures or endless hours tracking the Spirit Bear to capture the perfect shot for National Geographic, Meg Jeffries decides to move back to the city—San Francisco. She wants a life with more stability. The kind that lets her see her family more than once a year and comes with owning a toaster or a full-sized tube of toothpaste. But creating her new “ normal” is not without its obstacles. Meg is confident and successful behind a camera. A little extra publicity can’t change that… until it does.

Westin Drake is famous for fast cars and box office sales. Yet he’s a terrible driver and secretly hopes his fifteen minutes is almost up. West moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco, looking for some substance and time near his family. But now that the buzz of his next film, Full Throttle – Floor It, is hitting maximum fervor, West keeps everyone at arm’s length so he can protect the people he loves… until he can’t.

When the public mistakes a simple kiss on the cheek for a budding romance, Meg and West are caught in a media frenzy. Somewhere amid the backseat getaways and plastered smiles, Meg discovers the man behind the glossy photographs, and West wonders how he’ll ever let her go once the cameras stop rolling. Love is never simple, especially when the world’s watching. How much are two people willing to expose for a chance at a true happily ever after?

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star three and a half

Throw two opposites together and you get.. a very enticing story. The people in this story are two sides of a coin, she is used to being free, alone, breathing in fresh air, he is used to the flash of the cameras wherever he is. Can you see the hurdle there? OK I could spot it a mile away but what’s life (in books) without a little drama, too damn easy I’d say. So I’m not complaining that there were maybe-probably-definitely some big choices to be made here. I was very curious to see how their interest in each other was going to develop… would they give love a chance when it would also imply that one of them had to make a life-changing choice. Were they going to make it? I wouldn’t bet any money on it when I started to read this anyway but you never know…

Meg has led the most interesting life looking through her camera lens, capturing the most amazing wildlife in faraway countries. Reading about her encounters with bears etc made me just dream away. West is an A-list actor and in a few months he’ll shoot movie number 5 of the Full Throttle series. He’s more than a pretty face though even if nobody is interested in that.

She’s been living her life in her own little bubble so Meg doesn’t know who he is when she meets him at the Climate Wellness Symposium where she’s the key speaker and he has to introduce her. They hit it off right away and they’ll be seeing each other a lot more when they make a business deal for the presentation of more climate awareness projects together. They start to really like each other’s company but is there really a future for them ahead when they lead so very different lives?

She: Do I look polished? (..) He: No. (…) She: What image do I project then?

Spring, he thought, or the rich colors of the hills afer a deep all-dry rain. She looked alive and somehow despite her work, she didn’t notice the world could be a dreary place. 

Probably best to keep that to himself.

She’s like a breath of fresh air for him and I can totally see the appeal of this strong and independent woman. He – I like to think he reminds me of Paul Walker – is a good guy who has an eye for detail and appreciates the art in the city. Yes he’s a celebrity and has bodyguards and all that but he comes from a normal family and maintaining a level of normality and looking after his family still mean everything to him.

This was an enjoyable and sweet romance but I didn’t have any heart-melting moments like I always have with my number one author. It was great to see them bond at one moment over the fact that they’re both the youngest of the family. There were definitely some highlights in the story and I really liked that they found redeeming qualities in each other and it wasn’t just a flash of physical attraction, but I still wasn’t swooned by their story like I wanted. I think it was a good read overall but it isn’t a really memorable one for me.

This novel was included in my one-month subscription Bookworm box (May edition) and this is my honest opinion.