My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

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You can only hide for so long…

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

I’m not sure what’s going on with me lately but I’m still working on it to find my next top read. I really need to finish this review now because it is taking me forever to write something down and the funny part is that I actually liked the novel, I just wasn’t blown away by it. My Mother’s Secret is the second novel I read by Sanjida Kay and I do really enjoy this author’s style of writing so there is definitely that and right from the beginning the story had me hooked again. Differently from my first experience with her previous novel, The Stolen Child it didn’t have that same shocking quality though. It did have several twists but none of them really surprised me.

The story is narrated by Lizzy in the past and Emma and Stella (mother and daughter) in the present. It became clear that Emma knew things about Lizzy’s past and about her husband so I knew there was some connection, there was no denying that. Was she someone close or could it even be that she was Lizzy, but how and why? This little mystery was what actually kept me guessing the longest. Emma did make some strange decisions and I didn’t really like the way she treated her husband, seeking the company of another man. The story flowed nicely but it was all quite predictable, there was a lot of foreshadowing and I knew who everyone was before it was revealed.

There were some serious Gone Girl vibes weaved into the plot in the end and I did enjoy that part though so I’m hoping she’ll surprise me more next time, I’ll be her biggest fan again then.

I won a free copy of this novel in a Twitter giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Mini #AudioBookReviews – liar, liar, tongue on fire!

The Last Wife audio

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Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends-until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…

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star three and a half

I read Karen Hamilton’s debut novel The Perfect Girlfriend in 2017 as one of the first and I couldn’t shut up about it at the time so it went without saying that I had to read – or listen to – her next novel. It did take me a while to get into the story but it was worth pushing through. I like revenge stories but sometimes it grows old to read about an obsessive jealous protagonist. Marie, the main character, seems calculated, wanting nothing else than Nina’s life who seems to have all her ducks in order. Nina has a wonderful relationship with Stuart and two children, a boy Felix and a girl Emily, until she dies. Cue Marie who sees an opportunity there… but while I thought I knew how this story was going to go it veered into a completely different direction and the past that I had overlooked at first, plays a much more important role than I initially thought and I saw literally everyone in another light by the end of the novel.

The narration of Marie’s and Camilla’s (the other woman in the picture who Marie rather want to see going than coming) voices were quite pleasant to listen to but I didn’t really like Stuart’s. The narrator (Michelle Ford) made his voice croak and he sounded much older than he should be in my head, he also spoke rather slowly, making me feel that he was a bit simple minded. It’s a small qualm but still. I know I was wrong about him though, he’s not a dumb ass and neither is Marie. My opinions about her changed greatly and I even felt sorry for her (the one I called the bitch in my head I have to admit) at a given point. She tries so hard to have Nina’s life and when she finally almost has it, only then does she realize that Nina had quite a few secrets and now she’ll have to make her own decisions if she wants to keep the secrets too. Personally, I think I’d give this 4 stars if I had read it, it had quite a few suspects and twists involved in the second part of the novel, there’s only a teensy bit more love for this author’s debut that had me hooked right away.  

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HowNotToDieAlone audio

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Andrew’s been feeling stuck.

For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe.

Then he meets Peggy.

A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades.

Could there be more to life than this?

But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start.

amazon uk amazon com

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First of all, the narration was performed by Simon Vance and we hit it off right away, I loved the fast tempo in which he told the story. He sounded a bit on speed, going a hundred words an hour, but I liked it. You had no choice but to pay attention, there’s not a single chance that you risk a wandering mind when listening to this one. Peggy’s accent was rather special to my ears, I don’t know where she was from. It was still understandable so there were no worries but let’s just say Andrew’s voice was easier.

Secondly, I really liked Andrew’s job. He works for the city council and he has to investigate dead people’s homes, looking for evidence of next of kin in the form of letters, cards, any contact details, and also see if there are any financial statements or official documents lying around that can shed a light on their finances. I was intrigued and interested in witnessing what he came across when entering someone’s home.

I know this might sound weird but I had already thought about this before this audiobook and I actually think this could happen to me when I’m old. I think that’s why I also connected quite well with Andrew, we are actually pretty much alike. For one, he’s also in the same situation as the people of the houses he visits, he lives a very solitary life and he also happened to have told a little white lie about having a family. A white lie that is hard to keep up and is going to get him into trouble, especially as his boss is insisting at organizing dinner’s at everyone’s homes. Where is he going to find a wife and two kids in a fortnight so to speak? 

I found the story itself rather slow and not all of the characters were equally interesting or fleshed out enough. I liked the friends Andrew had online and the plotlines revolving around them, and I liked how understanding Peggy was but I didn’t care for his other colleagues or his boss at all. In the end you know how this is going to end and while the journey towards the end is just as important, I felt was just not quite so memorable as I would have liked and for once I liked the narration more than the story itself. 

The Chain by Adrian McKinty #BookReview

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I’m late to the party as ever because I had this book for a while but then I suddenly had a really good reason to bump this novel to the top of my reading list. See just last month I found out that The Chain is the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. The author leaves Lee Child, Jane Casey, Will Carver and Chris Brookmyre behind him by winning this award. You can imagine that I just had to see for myself what made this novel so special.

And yes The Chain is special, the concept of the novel most of all. It’s a living nightmare when your child is kidnapped and when you are driven to do things that are immoral and criminal even. But wouldn’t you do anything for your child? How far would you go? Is there a limit? Would you harm another child in order to save yours? The whole system is quite a clever set up from the kidnappers and it looks flawless as well. Is there any way to stop this insane thing from happening over and over again? It would seem not and so I kept on reading, hoping that there was going to be a twist, something to change the odds and let the people behind all of it become the ones hunted.

The first half of the novel was gripping and frightening, the tension was hanging in the air and I had my eyes glued to the pages, but when the worst of the worst was over and I relaxed in the second part of the story, it also kind of lost its momentum a little bit. It picked back up again in the very end but it never really reached that same riveting level again as at first.

I did enjoy the characters of Rachel and Pete and they certainly made me wonder how a cancer patient and a heroin addict were going to lead to a twist to the story. Why do Americans always go looking for trouble? I didn’t see this ending well! Rachel and Pete are clever but so are the people behind The Chain so the game is on! I really enjoyed the way the author also wove the past of one of the characters into the present events. I believe that both parties surprised each other, and me in the process as well.

The whole novel is so movie-worthy, I could easily see it vividly in my head so I’m very happy it is already snapped up by Universal and is going to be turned into a movie. I’ll be at the front row to see this one!

 I own a copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

PS. The new WordPress editor didn’t save most of my review the first time I wrote it (which I was much happier with) but it is what it is now ;-). Also I hate that I can’t justify text anymore (at work I have to so it feels wrong) but what can you do huh?

Testing one, two.. one, two.. Are audiobooks for me? 2 #audiobookreviews

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Hello bookworms!

During lockdown I discovered the real deal of audiobooks. Before that I had only listened to a book on the radio via BBC 4 Book at Bedtime (How to Stop Time) but two months ago I was invited to listen to The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney by a publisher and that went ok so I thought I was ready for more. I certainly want to enjoy audiobooks because I can only read one book at a time and if I can listen to books at moments I can’t read then that would be a dream.

After listening to these two novels I still don’t know if it’s something for me though.. maybe I haven’t found the right book, maybe I’m just a very demanding listener, or maybe I haven’t found the right moments yet to listen to them.

A lot of questions and I don’t have the answers yet. Is it worth trying again after these? I think so. I might listen to an extract first though only to hear the narrator’s voice and see if I like listening to that voice because it appears that’s really important to me, and I might continue listening on the train to work, even if that’s only for short periods each day, and not in bed for the moment. I still have to figure out what works best for me but I’m not giving up yet. Even if I can only listen to one audiobook a month that would be twelve more books I could devour each year. Are there any things that work better for you? Let me know if you have! 

The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood

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On Sunday, February 3rd 1990, seven-year-old Danny Redpath disappeared from his home. Four months later, his body was found in the nearby forest, washed clean of all evidence. Over time, more bodies were discovered; more families devastated forever.

Apprehended while attempting to abduct another child, Jonathan Egan-Walsh was charged with the murders of thirteen boys. Convicted on all counts, he received life in prison and went unrepentant, still refusing to reveal the whereabouts of one of his victims, Zachery Marshall.

Twenty-five years later, Zachery’s mother Diane is still searching for his body. When Jonathan dies in custody, she realises she will never know its location – until she receives a letter he left in his cell, in which he admits he was guilty of all the crimes of which he was accused, except the murder of her son.

Diane tracks down the woman in charge of the case at the time, former DI Caroline Turner, and together with Jonathan’s biographer Alex Frost they start to investigate. Could this be the killer’s final twist of the knife – or is he telling the truth at long last? Sooner or later, this secret buried and undisturbed for a quarter of a century will come to light.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

My second audiobook and I really loved the narration this time. Mathew Horne gave a voice to Jonathan Egan-Walsh and Joanne Froggatt narrated all of the women’s voices and I loved listening to her outstanding performance in particular. A trembling voice, shouting with the right amount of anger, she did it all very naturally. I especially loved hearing Hannah, Diane’s mother in the story, she really sounded old!

I’d almost forget to talk about the story itself which was a heart-breaking one although it didn’t break my heart but for the chapters from Jonathan Egan-Walsh, where he tells a little about some of the boys he took. It’s normal in his head, which makes it more shocking to the reader to hear him talking so casually about it. I still don’t really know why he killed them because some of them appeared – his words – happy. Did he just grow tired of them, were they not enough? I was unwillingly fascinated and actually wanted to hear even more from him but the novel focuses on Diane, the woman whose life stood still since the day her little boy Zachery went missing, her ex-husband who tried to move on, and it highlights the difficult relationship with her younger son Markus who suffered greatly throughout the years after his brother went missing.

Retired DC Caroline Turner and her husband Jamie, and Alex Frost, his daughter and his wife Melanie, also each have their own personal and interesting stories to tell while investigating Jonathan’s claim.

It takes a while to fully take off and the mystery stays at the same stage of development for a while but there are twists and turns in the end. I had a hunch how it would end though from very early on so I didn’t feel that elation as others might have had. I liked it overall but didn’t find it a very extraordinary story, we’ve read this plotline before and I think it’s mostly the secondary characters Caroline Turner and Alex Frost and the snippets of Jonathan made it memorable.

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All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

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On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his stepmother, Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father. But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife?

As her past entwines with Harry’s in the present, things grow increasingly dark and threatening – will Harry be able to see any of it clearly through his own confused feelings?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half

All The Beautiful Lies was my first novel by Peter Swanson, although I have another paperback of his in one of my unpacked boxes which I hope to get to before I ever move again ;-).

It took me some time to get into the novel because I found it hard to enjoy the narration at the very start. The female narrator ended all the descriptive sentences the same way, with a strong emphasis on the last word, making the last word of each sentense sound a bit elongated and it all sounded a little robotic to my ears. Maybe I’m really fussy now but I didn’t have this issue in the previous audiobook even if there were descriptive paragraphs as well. It went better after a while when there were more conversations breaking up these sections and I felt it went a little more natural in the end (or maybe I got more used to it). I did end up missing a few sections of the novel because I fell asleep a few times though so it didn’t always keep my attention. I think it’s safe to say I love novels with lots of intonation and changes in voices most of all.

As for the story, there’s an enjoyable plotline in the past that follows a young 15 year old Alice and a present plotline from Harry’s point of view who comes back when he hears his father died. He finds it hard to believe that his father had an accident and wonders if his stepmother – the same Alice but older now – has anything to do with it. There’s a recurring theme of young women falling for older men in the novel, of affairs and betrayal.

Most of the novel felt more as family drama than thriller, it’s only in the second part of the novel that the threat becomes really pressing. This certainly made me pay close attention as to what was going on but I found the outcome and truth about what happened to Bill written as a little bit of an easy way out. There was another twist though, almost after the main events were finished, that was hugely unexpected and I found very entertaining. So in the end the story left me quite satisfied after all.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton #BookReview

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When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Well I was pulled into this as soon as I read that Alex and Rosie’s carefully planned accommodation in Thailand fell into the water when they arrived and everything was coming down on Alex to find them a place to sleep. I sort of recognized this terrible situation from my own experience and so the start of the story was in this way pretty much a matter of same thing, different country! You see, I was the same age, 18 or 19 years old when I went for a few days to Rome with a school friend and the hostel we didn’t or couldn’t book in advance was not able to put us up when we arrived. My friend wanted to go home right away and although I felt the same, someone had to actually find a solution instead of sulking about it. Looking back now that I finished reading The Suspect, I see it could have turned out very differently when you don’t end up where you’re supposed to be, and I was still quite lucky my friend didn’t turn out to be such a poser like Rosie. Yep there was no love lost for her and if it would have been only her who went missing I wouldn’t have nearly felt as bad about it as I felt with both girls gone missing but as it was I did feel much concern for Alex and I (secretly) hoped she’d ditch Rosie in time.

This is the second novel I read by Fiona Barton and I enjoyed this novel more than my first one, The Widow. It’s still a bit of a slow burner too with lots of vagueness and mystery but I was more invested in the story, and I especially liked the multiple POV’s and timelines. The story is partly told by Alex – one of the girls – through e-mails to her friend Mags at home about her time in Thailand, and she gives the unfiltered truth about her time with Rosie who forgets about their planning as soon as she sets foot there and is only interested in guys and partying. The author builds up the suspense with every new and worrying email from Alex and it didn’t take long at all to feel that nothing good could come out of this.

The rest of the story of the missing girls is covered by 3 more perspectives, namely by The Reporter (Kate), The Detective (DI Bob Sparkes) and The Mother (Lesley O’Connor). The author mixes things up nicely by changing Kate’s perspective drastically because yes she might be a journalist always looking for that next scoop but she is also a mother and as it happens she’s not a stranger to the situation Lesley and Jenny, the girls’ mothers find themselves in with her own son Jake travelling in Thailand for 2 years without giving a peep himself the last few months. Suddenly the media, fellow colleagues, are chasing her too for an interview and how much is she supposed to say?

Of course I knew the mention of Jake meant something and that he must be involved in some way. The girls were maybe a little too straightforward good girl/bad girl characters but the author put a lot of effort into creating this ambiguity about Jake, she kept me guessing if he was a good guy or a bad guy. The ending was satisfying although I found the biggest twist to be one that came well before the end of the story and from a corner I totally hadn’t anticipated.

All in all a good story you might want to let your children read before going on holiday on their own for the first time. If they ask one more time what could possibly go wrong you should simply put this novel into their hands.

I received a copy of this novel from a blogfriend. This is my honest opinion.

The Day My Grandfather Was A Hero by Paulus Hochgatterer #BookReview

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In October 1944, a thirteen-year-old girl arrives in a tiny farming community in Lower Austria, at some distance from the main theatre of war. She remembers very little about how she got there, it seems she has suffered trauma from bombardment. One night a few months later, a young, emaciated Russian appears, a deserter from forced labour in the east. He has nothing with him but a canvas roll, which he guards like a hawk. Their burgeoning friendship is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a group of Wehrmacht soldiers in retreat, who commandeer the farm.

Paulus Hochgatterer’s intensely atmospheric, resonant novel is like a painting in itself, a beautiful observation of small shifts from apathy in a community not directly affected by the war, but exhausted by it nonetheless; individual acts of moral bravery which to some extent have the power to change the course of history.

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When I heard about this novel, it didn’t take more than a second to know that I wanted to read the story of a young girl during WWII. The girl is the person guiding us through the story but it’s mainly about a painting that really went missing during the war and where this novella gives a version of what possibly happened.

This short novella covers in merely 112 pages in fact the way of life in Austria for a family of farmers. The characters here fold back on themselves and they very much live in their own microcosmos in the country side. While it might seem at first that the war is not close by for them – you won’t read about invasions, raids, hunger or camps – it is a false feeling, even they can’t escape from danger. Yes the war is almost at its end as the date reads March 14, 1945 in the first chapter but that doesn’t mean that the threat is gone or that they have come out of it unscathed.

Nelli is the anchor point throughout the story but the story’s orbit extends to the farmer and his wife and their 5 children. Nelli – only 13 years old – is the most interesting character for half of the novel though as she’s lost her memory yet the scarring is right under the surface and it shines through intermittently via an astuteness that is quite extraordinary for a 13-year old. She has a special fondness for stories of martyrs for example and has no problem regaling an audience with vivid descriptions of ways to murder somebody.

I was well aware that she had a vivid imagination so it was difficult to know what the truth was. She often tells two versions of events and sometimes I was hoping that the alternate version of events that she proposed right after the one that was first mentioned was actually the one to be true. Who knows though? Did someone walk away or was this person killed after all, we’ll never really know… and exactly that play with the reader’s emotions, kindling that hope that we still carry in ourselves for the most positive outcome, is what made this novel extraordinary.

It did take me a bit of time and some research to find out more about the political situation in Austria at the time and the characters positions. ‘It’s only the Wehrmacht’ introduced me to their new visitors but I would have enjoyed it if the author had described their situation in more detail as it left me confused at first. The author also put a lot of effort into describing the landscape, the sky and air etc. which I could really imagine but not all of his characters came alive as much as Nelli’s surroundings unfortunately.

It was a interesting short story and Nelli allowed me to read a ‘could have happened’ story about a painting that really went missing in 1945. Above all this she made me realise that heroes don’t always get their fame. There were good people who acted and were never named. There are still so many stories untold, people who were brave and never received the recognition they deserved. It’s time to take notice and this novella is a great tribute for any unnamed heroes.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher MacLehose for review. This review is my honest opinion.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman #BookReview

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The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

After last week’s thriller I really needed a book to help relax and loosen my tendons and muscles and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was the perfect cure. If you’re looking for a novel with a quirky character then Nina definitely fits the bill. It might come as a shock because I read that lots of readers found many similarities in Nina but I didn’t identify with Nina as much as I had expected and I still don’t know if we would be friends exactly.

Nina is a strong, independent woman, whip smart and she really has her opinions. She lives by her calendar (the days were printed between the chapters and I really enjoyed these little extras) and she’s pretty rigid in her timings (ok we might have that in common), and lives with her cat named Phil (ok yes that too only mine doesn’t comment on my behaviour; I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good or bad thing), but for an introvert she does have a pretty full social life, she certainly doesn’t have social anxiety. She leads several book clubs at the bookstore she works, she has trivia night every week and movie nights on her agenda, gym class and there’s also reading time of course. How can a girl still fit in a date with a cute guy with all of that going on?

One day her life is turned upside down when she finds out that the father she never knew died and that he was quite rich. He knew about her though and he left her something in his will and gave her a large extended family as a bonus. Nina isn’t really looking for either and likes her life as it is but it’ll soon turn out that she won’t have a real choice in the matter… some of them look her up and it turns out they do have some things in common. At the same time the boy from a rival trivia team catches her eye and it seems that he might have noticed her too. Can she juggle all of that and let her quiet life become so much more chaotic?

I really enjoyed reading about the new family members and I thought she had much more in common with each of them than with her love interest, who was a lovely boy with lots of patience, but I didn’t really feel the chemistry, especially when she doesn’t find ‘time’ in her schedule to meet him and is still convinced that her future lover needs to read books to be a match. She knows so much and yet she knows nothing at all. Half of us would be single if that were true, right? The love angle was more of a sideplot for me and the focus of the novel was mostly on the new family and the intruiging will, with little sideplots involving the bookshop she worked at and the boy who knows more about sports than her.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is a charming book, easy to read and light-hearted. I enjoyed seeing Nina getting her head out of the books and adapting to the new situations. A great holiday novel if you’re still looking for one!

I bought a copy of this novel at my local bookstore. This is my honest opinion.

The House Share by Kate Helm #BookReview

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The Hunting Party meets Our House in this gripping, claustrophobic new locked-room thriller.

When you’re sharing a house with seven murder suspects, you can’t lock the danger out.

Immi think she has found the perfect new home in central London: a shared warehouse with luxury accommodation, a rooftop terrace and daily yoga, all with a surprisingly affordable price tag. The Dye Factory is a ‘co-living’ community, designed to combat the loneliness of big city life.

But soon after she moves into her new haven, Immi realises that it’s not quite as idyllic as it appears. No one seems to know who is behind this multi-million pound urban experiment. And her housemates may be hiding a dangerous secret.

Then, as a series of pranks escalates into something much darker, Immi is left questioning whether, in this group of strangers, she can ever really be safe . . .

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

When I saw this novel come up in my emails I was excited right away. I live for locked-room type thrillers, so this one was impossible to resist.

The House Share was quite an enjoyable read even if I have to admit that the start of the novel reminded me of a similar book I read (down to the girl finding an advertisement and an offer to move she can’t refuse). When you start comparing it to a million dollar bestseller… it’s not the best thing to do. This story turns into a completely different direction quickly though so I was happy it made its own stamp in the end.

I don’t know why I always assimilate locked-room thrillers to be novels with people in the same room or in the same remote location with nowhere to go. The House Share differs from that precut format as Immi can walk in and out of the Factory to her job and lead a fairly normal life, the only thing is she’s bound to stay there – if she is chosen as a resident after a trial period – because of the contract that comes with the residency.

At the surface all of it seems golden and the opportunity Immi and Dex get to live at this place is enough to make anyone quite jealous (well not me but then I’m not into healthy stuff or want to be part of a ‘community’ and I can’t contribute any skills like Immi’s sewing clothes). Co-living has never looked so good, there are several perks and benefits to be found over four different communal floors: Play, Retreat, Nourish and Focus. They even have two pets there, Edward and Bella, so even I would get a little excited.  

The other residents or Dyers as they call themselves (the Factory used to dye animal skins there… yes it was a veritable slaughterhouse) all have secrets to keep and Immi and Dex both have secrets of their own.  

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding all of the characters living in the building. There’s the beautiful and vain actress Camille, laid-back IT guy Zoum, healthy Ashleigh, queen bee Bernice and slick Lucas but I couldn’t figure out who the true culprit behind everything was. To add to this great cast of not to be trusted characters was also Hanna, the housekeeper, who seemed to live there and always be around except when you need her.   

I didn’t find any of these people particularly likeable but I did get invested in Immi and Dex, the underdogs of the show. Even though I didn’t know excactly what their backstory was, what they had done that was awful and needed to be kept a secret, I made up my mind right away that I wanted to stick up for them. Did they stumble into a cult, were they even safe there now that people were starting to get hurt? How can they escape when they have no money and nowhere to go?

The tone of the novel was full of menace and you don’t know anything until the end and that end is nothing like you imagined it would be. Some might find it all a bit unbelievable, I thought it was quite clever. I only wished I could have cared for the characters more and that the ending wasn’t dropped on the reader so out of the blue, it makes a great twist but it made all of my sleuthing a total waste of time. You are warned, just (try to) relax and enjoy the show.

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney #BookReview #AudioBook

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Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.

Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

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Yes I read a sci-fi novel which is already quite extraordinary news but not only that is new, it was also the very first audiobook I ever completed. I did listen regularly to a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime adaptation of How To Stop Time but I feel that doesn’t really count as the same thing, so I’m quite proud of myself that I finished listening to the 128 files of The Perfect Wife. So how was my experience? I’m not going to lie, it was a bumpy ride. It took me two months in all but the first 50 files were the most difficult, I listened very irregularly and only 3-4 files in one go but after that I really got the hang of it and listened to the rest in only two weeks or so. It helped that each file and chapter was a soundbite of app. 7 minutes, so I could really listen to it in small doses if I wanted to (I started to really enjoy listening during my half an hour lunch break).

The narration of the audiobook was ok but the woman’s voice with Abbie as a robot was very softly spoken, I did miss some energy and power there sometimes to really keep my attention afloat. Maybe a robot can’t be so vivacious and energetic as the Abbie I came to know in the flashbacks of the past, that might explain why, but she felt insecure and in doubt of herself, not really what I think a robot would be or what I felt the original Abbie was.

The sci-fi part of it all was quite enjoyable and a future like the one presented in this story wasn’t even very hard to imagine. I liked the general plot idea and it was developped quite well although I would have enjoyed if it was a bit more fast-paced and with more happening in the past. Something was definitely off I but couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. Abbie doesn’t trust her husband in the present and he did seem a little controlling to me from the start but is he a murderer? Did he really love Abbie so much he wanted to recreate her as an Abbie-bot, or does he have another motive? There was a big and slow lead up to the final conclusion. The author has a delicous twist in store at the end and I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard it. That alone is quite the exception. It made me all the more happy I persisted and didn’t give up at first.

So to conclude I’d say from one novice sci-fi reader to another: The Perfect Wife is totally readable and enjoyable as a novel to dip your toes into the genre.

I listened to a free copy of this novel via Titleshare, courtesy of the publisher. This is still my honest opinion.

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton #BookReview

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Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

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star three and a half

It’s raining 5 stars for this novel and *deep breath* I didn’t feel the same excitement. I know it is a mighty good novel for most readers but given the theme of the novel I should have known there was a possibility I could be the exception and feel this way. I know this author and I love all of her books I read so far so I took the chance and I chose this title when I won a really great giveaway last year. Do I regret reading it? Not at all, because it’s still a good book. Will I continue this trilogy? Well no, because I don’t think the road ahead is one for me but don’t let me stop you from giving this a go, I really mean it.

It honestly would have been a great book, an amazing book for me too if it didn’t go so far into fantasyland in the end.

The opening chapter of the novel reeled me right in though. Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of a convicted criminal and it certainly grabbed my attention right away, especially when she goes round to his old house and finds something unsettling that puts a new light on his conviction.

It was incredibly chilling to read a pretty vivid description in one of the following chapters how someone would experience being buried alive, waking up in total darkness and finding out they’re actually in a casket. This was some outstanding writing, I could feel the panic and desperation through the pages! In case you’re wondering about the difference too, the meaning of a coffin and a casket is very well explained in the novel, and even such a small thing makes me love reading this author’s novels, there’s always something new to learn.

WPC Florence Lovelady is someone who doesn’t let go easily but who is unfortunately the only woman in a bastion of men so she has to stand up for herself quite a lot. She ain’t no pushover though and not afraid to do what needs to be done behind the chief’s back, and it only made me like her more. Her only shortcoming is that she tends to get a little distracted with someone else playing on her mind to see she might be in danger. We already know she has lived through something because she’s missing part of a digit at the start of the book so the anticipation and the fear was high, especially when the end came in sight. All in all, she makes a great detective and I was definitely in her corner, even if I didn’t see eye to eye with her beliefs in witchcraft and dark magic.

Did she convict the right man though? It was a straight and shut case but 30 years later she can’t shake the niggling feeling in light of her new finding. If only those bees could talk! The tension builds and builds in the end and it finally finishes with a big bang. Lovelady is one power house of a woman!

Oh The Craftsman is full of twists and turns and even though I couldn’t get on with the thoughts behind the crimes, I can very well see why so many really enjoyed it.

I won a free copy of this novel in a giveaway. This is still my honest opinion.