Vox by Christina Dalcher #BookReview

Blank bookcover with clipping path

whats-it-about-2

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2

This book! Have you read it? Well if not, why haven’t you? It’s an incredible novel and it feels so friggin’ real (well for the most part but I’ll get to that later); it is actually a super scary thought that this world Jean lives in is something that could actually happen. 

From p. 370: “The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

The novel made me think a lot about the world I’m actually a part of and about this fictional one and I couldn’t believe how easy they made it sound to change the world in such a small amount of time. Even without any dead bodies (okay, maybe a few), it really got under my skin.

I was planning to not do this but it’s just inevitable, so yes I’ll have to bring up The Handmaid’s Tale. Vox is set in its own frightening world: one where women are not ‘surrogates working as servants’ no they can stay with their own family, if they’re married, but they really don’t have to talk too much. Shut your mouth is to be taken pretty literally in this novel. At least in Atwood’s novel the women could talk on stolen moments, there was solidarity and friendship. The world building in Vox (‘Vox’ being the Latin word for Voice) is very different even if the domination of women is the main goal in both novels. Women and girls can’t talk, or barely. What’s a hundred words? It means no bedtime stories to your children, it means not replying even when you know the other person is wrong or lying… Take away someone’s voice, take away the communication (reading, writing, nor signing is allowed either of course) and you isolate people, you make them docile. Those first two chapters really came in and I felt for Jean instantly.

Jean (or Gianna, both names are used because she’s Italian) isn’t just anybody though, she’s a linguist who did ground-breaking work in the field of brain repair. Now they suddenly come to her because they need her help. She doesn’t want to help but there are some incentives. I loved the dilemma’s she faced throughout the novel and one of the biggest was whether she would choose to stay or flee the country, leaving her family behind if it ever came to it. It might seem like an easy choice but it really wasn’t.

One of the most poignant storylines were the conversations she has with her daughter Sonia and her son Steven. Steven, aged 17, was subtly influenced through school and it was so disheartening and frustrating to hear him change. It was equally heart-breaking to hear how proud Sonia was of her achievement and how she is used to this reality. The world is all wrong and they’re too young to get it.

OK so the novel was brilliant, I’m sure you get it by now BUT the second part of the novel was the part with the blazing guns and the action so to speak. At one point towards the ending the author must have thought let’s crank it up a notch and see how crazy we can really make it. The whole thing with the monkey and that other dude was a bit nuts and I wasn’t really sure what the purpose was to be frank, I wanted to shout at them for being so dumb.

Honestly, I loved the concept and this was such a chilling and thought-provoking novel, a very impressive debut. Oh and lest you not forget: ‘We will not be silenced‘, damn right :-)! This review consists of 608 words and I’m not taking any of them back.

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

Advertisements

The Puppet Show (Poe #1) and Black Summer (Poe #2) #BookReview

ThePuppetShow Black Summer

Hello hello !! I’m delighted to share my thoughts today on two novels!

If you haven’t started the first novel yet, you might as well get both of them at the same time because I highly recommend binge-reading this series! You know sometimes when you read a book in a series you like it but you still want to read something else in between novels, well I didn’t feel any of this, au contraire, I was very happy I didn’t have to say goodbye yet to Poe and Bradshaw and I wouldn’t have minded reading the next one (The Curator!) either. I’ll have to wait almost a year for that now, boohoo.

Anyway, I think you know what’s coming 😉 but here’s what I thought about both novels…

The Puppet Show (Washington Poe Book 1)

ThePuppetShow def

whats-it-about-2

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of . . .

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2

The Puppet Show is a superb police procedural novel! The storyline is very puzzling, with a serial killer at work who seems to want to deliver a message to Washington Poe.  Poe’s name is carved on one of the victim’s chests and Poe would hate me for it but god I just love it so much when there’s a personal score to settle. Anyway, Poe feels he doesn’t have much choice so decides to come back to work and catch the ‘Immolation Man’. I never even heard of the word before but then again this guy’s MO is also not so common in novels. I was super intrigued and very happy as well to have learned something new here.

What I really loved about this novel is that it follows the Hansel and Gretel principle (yes it’s my invention but I’m sure you know what I mean). The detectives follow a trail, not breadcrumbs but clues in this case, and one tip leads to the next and that leads to yet another revelation in the investigation and so on. It’s amazing how far you can get this way and especially where it takes you. If you look back and see what the first starting point was and the trail followed felt as if  it was going its natural course  then you know you have a great read in your hands.

The story in itself is disturbingly splendid and you’ll never be able to guess where the story will lead the detectives. Poe is a very likeable character and with Stephanie Flynn and Tilly Bradshaw he makes a great team. Bradshaw has a very high IQ, she’s a computer whizz and doesn’t know any social skills, and it feels like she’s on the spectrum to me, although it isn’t told as much. Even though they’re almost polar opposites Poe and Bradshaw appreciate one another for who they are, which results in a really great dynamic and it was a pleasure to see them together. I also loved Poe even more when he stood up for her, I’m all #teamPoe!

The story was dark and twisted but nobody needs to feel scared to read it. It’s disturbing like many other books that have some triggers in them but not horrific in my opinion and the killer’s motive was understandable. I was on the edge of my seat towards the ending and I really searched my memory for something I missed in the investigation but my mind felt empty, I couldn’t figure it out. Once it was revealed it all made sense of course but that’s how it always goes. The author still had a nice little cliffhanger ending up his sleeve to make you wonder about Poe’s personal life even more, so when you read this, you better have book 2 on the ready.

If you like police procedurals, you’ll want to read this one!

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

Line

Black Summer (Washington Poe Book 2)

BlackSummer def

whats-it-about-2

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

‘We have a problem, Poe’. How I love to hear these words now!

I’m forever and more #TeamPoe now.

While I thought The Puppet Show was brilliant, I have to say this novel is possibly even better. The mystery is sooo big in this one! I loved every single page of this thrilling investigation.

Washington Poe has his work cut out in this novel, that’s crystal-clear from the start! A decision of the past is backfiring in an unbelievable way and now they’re coming after him. Don’t we all love to give our support to the underdog, especially if it’s someone as likeable and good as Poe? He had me in his pocket before he even explained the case or his decision to arrest the chef for murdering his daughter.

But did Poe really mess up? Did he help convict someone for murder, someone who’s innocent but spent the last 6 years in prison? And also one of the most intriguing questions that I really wanted to hear the answer to: can the dead become alive again? I only needed a second to answer that one, but something made me bite my tongue this time as everything points to the opposite as it were. Ah I don’t think there’s a single question more intriguing to explore! What a premise! And what a phenomenal execution too.

There were a lot of how’s and why’s in this novel and I loved how complex the case seemed once again. I also very much enjoyed the setting, the novel takes the culinary road this time and it was great to be immersed into the restaurant world. It was all quite interesting (except for the first chapter where someone eats a little bird in a disgusting way) and once again, it took Poe and Bradshaw to very unexpected places.

M.W. Craven has a brilliant mind. Not once but twice already he managed to overwhelm me with setting, characters and murders. The whole picture makes sense, everything in the plot fits. I also secretly love that the novels are a bit darker than usual, and that the murders are quite eh original. That’s all, I’ll let you all find out the rest for yourself :-).

If you enjoy police procedurals, you would be mad to miss this series! It really stands out from the rest and I for one can’t wait to read his next novel.

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

The Scribe (A Kramer & Carver Thriller #1) by A.A. Chaudhuri #BookReview by #GuestReviewer @vanessaschelf

The Scribe def

I’m delighted to have Vanessa as a guest reviewer on the blog today! If you don’t know her yet, Vanessa lives in Belgium too. She’s not a blogger (yet) but definitely a bookworm and she’s always wonderfully supportive to lots of bloggers. Go and give her a follow on Twitter when you’ve got a second, but first, read her thoughts on The Scribe which she read via The Pigeonhole site.

whats-it-about-2

Making it as a lawyer has always been a cutthroat business.

But now that a sadistic serial killer is on the loose the consequences could prove deadly… A killer is targeting former students of The Bloomsbury Academy of Law. The victims – all female – are gruesomely butchered according to a pattern corresponding with the legal syllabus. Even more disconcerting are riddles sent by the killer to investigating officer, Chief Inspector Jake Carver, offering clues as to who is next and where they will die.

Up-and-coming lawyer Madeline Kramer, a former classmate of a number of the slain, soon finds her life turned upside down by the savagery. And when she decides to help Carver track down the killer, she places herself in mortal danger. Can Maddy unscramble the complex riddles, and save her own life and those of others destined to die?

A. A. Chaudhuri’s Ripper-like mystery, The Scribe, throws down a challenge even hardened crime thriller fans will be unable to resist.

amazon uk amazon com

Vanessa's Review

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

The book starts with the murder of Sarah Morrell, fourth-seat trainee at Channing & Barton. She is killed in a meeting room of the law firm’s office buildings. The killer carved the word “contract” in her chest as a message. But what does this message mean and who is it for? Soon a second murder victim is found, inscribed with “crime” on the chest. It seems that a serial killer is on the loose. How many more victims will be found before the killer is captured? DCI Jake Carver and DC Ben Drake are tasked to solve these murders and catch this ruthless killer. The killer didn’t leave any forensic evidence so it won’t be easy. They get their first real and useful information from Madeline Kramer, a one-year-qualified litigation associate at Channing & Barton and colleague of the first victim. She also went to college with Sarah. After the second murder takes place, Maddy is being consulted again by DCI Carver and so she becomes a civilian consultant in the case. She really shouldn’t get involved, but she can’t help herself. She just has to help. And her legal knowledge really comes in handy. Her help is not appreciated by everyone though.

Although the first chapter gets you to the edge of your seat, a few chapters later the tension ebbs slightly away. Most of us pigeons fairly quickly found out the killer’s identity, but it didn’t bother me that much. We had our suspicions but they only got confirmed at the end of the book. So sometimes, you could start to doubt, or so I did.

Throughout the story some of my fellow pigeons thought that Maddy helping out in the investigation wasn’t realistic. I really don’t know how murder investigations are being done, but for me this wasn’t a nuisance. Actually, I enjoyed Maddy being part of it all. I found her very likeable, though a bit naive at times (but hey, aren’t we all sometimes?). I am curious about a second book in this series and would like to read more about a possible collaboration between Carver and Maddy. It’s an enjoyable, fictional summer read that won’t leave you bored.

To finish I would like to thank The Pigeonhole to give me the opportunity to read this great book. And of course a big bow to Inge to give me a chance as a guest reviewer on her blog! 

Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe #Blogtour #BookReview @JSThrillers @HoZ_Books

Blank bookcover with clipping path

I am delighted to by joining the blog tour today for J.S. Monroe’s gripping new novel, Forget My Name and I want to thank Vicky of publishing house Head of Zeus for the tour invite and sending a copy my way! I’ll share my thoughts about the novel in a minute but do take a look at this fabulous blurb first.

whats-it-about-2

You are outside your front door. There are strangers in your house. Then you realise… You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

amazon uk amazon com

iBooks |Kobo | GooglePlay

Author

Author photo

J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.

Connect

Twitter : @JSThrillers

fB : @JSMonroeFindMe

review-2

Blimey! I read a novel I’m not likely to forget soon. Forget My Name is a thrilling read and it has an excellent plotline involving amnesia. I was delighted to find it felt differently from other novels about memory loss and my mouth almost dropped when I realised what was the truth and really at the base of this novel. There’s so much more to it than I assumed at first.

To be honest, I don’t know if I would and I wonder if other people would really let someone in who turns up at their doorstep claiming to live there so quickly, but luckily Tony and Laura do, they open their door and let the woman on their doorstep in to get to her senses, and with that act of goodwill the story is well set into motion and will twist and turn continuously.

I loved all the guesswork in this novel and this time it wasn’t only me, everyone was trying to find out who the mystery woman was and the wildest assumptions were made making her the suspect of being a Russian spy to a ruthless killer or even a long lost family member. But which one is it? As a reader you just don’t know which path the story is going to take ultimately, everything goes and that makes it a brilliantly unpredictable novel. I couldn’t get a grip on the mystery woman either, who is named Jemma – with a J -. She seemed genuine enough but I did wonder occasionally if she really was all she seemed. She did seem legit and she definitely knew Tom and Laura’s house though. My thoughts were running wild, and then, when I thought I had finally figured it out, the author made my confidence waver and the situation turned out to be completely different than I had thought and the story took off on a second wave of even more questions about what was going on right there. I certainly wouldn’t place any bets when reading this novel, you might lose your money.  

I can’t really say more about this novel because it would spoil so much fun, but this one falls in the category of one of my favorite tropes, so of course I couldn’t contain a little shriek of contentment when I saw where this was going. I read similar novels about what ‘Jemma’ is going through before but I’d certainly recommend this one if anyone asks. The plot has lots of mystery and thrills and a deep dark secret too and the author has a brilliant way of writing about it. I had no idea where Forget My Name was going to take me but it still surprised me more than I had anticipated!

Follow the rest of the tour :

Blog Tour Poster 2

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse #BookReview

TheArtofHiding def

whats-it-about-2

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

A beautiful story about change and the process one of the character’s goes through of finding herself again. The novel spreads an important and uplifting message, one that encourages everyone to stay true to yourself.

Are rich people really happier? At her introduction our main protagonist Nina thinks so. She was born into a rather poor family but then her future husband swept her off her feet instantly. It made her want to create a distance between her old life and her new one which also meant a certain detachment from her sister as well.

The difference couldn’t be bigger when her husband passes away. Not only does she need to deal with the loss of her husband and the boys of their father, she’ll have to take a step back from her posh lifestyle too.

Of course all of this doesn’t get resolved without any struggle. Just remember there’s always sunshine on a cloudy day, even if you don’t see it immediately it is present, it’s only temporarily hiding behind the clouds. It sure helps that good sisters do what good sisters do, which is sticking by their sister’s side when she needs it and it was sweet to see their dynamic.

I enjoyed the highs and lows of the story which made me feel for Nina and her children. I didn’t feel as sad and emotional as I thought I would feel, however, when reading about this broken family, but I have to admit by the end of the novel my throat closed up after all, and that made me even happier because it was a good feeling that caused it ;-).

The only thing that made me a little sad was the fact that they didn’t speak very highly of Finn and that felt a bit unfair. I don’t feel you should speak ill of the dead – unless they are bad people – and I just didn’t feel that he was. I was happy they gave it a twist in the end at least that was a bit more forgiving.

The art of hiding is a wonderful novel about grief but also hope and happiness and I certainly see myself reading more of this author’s books.

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

Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BookReview #BlogBlitz @HSCinkpen @orion_crime @TrapezeBooks

DegreesofGuilt def

I’m changing up my schedule guys, there won’t be a review on Sunday because this beauty releases today in e-book and I just couldn’t resist getting involved. I’m super happy I did because Degrees of Guilt is absolutely brilliant!

Happy publication day to HS Chandler!

Degrees of Guilt blogblitz

whats-it-about-2

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on..  it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.

The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.

At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.

Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.

Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.

Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.

I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

I Know You by Annabel Kantaria #BookReview

IKnowYou def

whats-it-about-2

You trust me.

You shouldn’t.

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

After a disappointing read last week where I struggled to even finish the novel, I’m very happy to have picked up a book that had my attention from the very first page and didn’t let go. I Know You is a cleverly written novel where the threat is unmistakenly present but hidden from view. Who exactly is lurking in the shadows, checking every trace, every picture and every comment on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, effectively getting to know someone better than you can imagine? It’s a complete mystery and a very creepy one indeed.

What I loved about this book is that not only you don’t know who the voice is in the chapters labelled I Know You, you also don’t know who they’re keeping tabs on, and best of all, the character in the novel that is the center of all the attention is completely unaware as well.

The novel creates a false sense of safety at first and almost reads like a contemporary novel with Taylor looking to make a friend after her move with hubby Jake from the US to the UK. She meets Anna at the local walking club and they hit it off right away. Taylor and Anna, Anna and Taylor, they become the bestest of friends and I was delighted with the blossoming of their warm friendship. There are other characters surrounding them, friends they make at the local walking club and book club, namely Simon, Sarah and Caroline, but they all have something about them that seemed off meaning one of them might have an ulterior motive and could be that menacing voice that starts to pop up. These extra chapters were brilliant and didn’t leave room about the evil intentions of this mysterious person. What the anonymous voice intended to do was kept for the very end though and not something I had foreseen. Every time I read these chapters dispersed throughout the novel my thoughts drifted off to my own digital footprint and I was examining if I didn’t leave too much information about myself too. Yes people know which restaurants I visit and what books I like to read, but I hope I’m doing a better job at keeping the rest to myself and I sure hope nobody is interested as much as well. 

Who’s after who? Who’s the false friend, and are they after Taylor or after Anna, or someone else entirely and why? The author made it very difficult to be sure about anything because most of what was revealed could be applied to both women. Very very slowly I started to have an idea though where the why was perhaps a little easier to determine than who. I can’t say I had anything to go or any hard proof to build my case but I thought I had figured out how this particular puzzle fit together. I was still quite surprised when I found out I was right though, although the shock one of the characters gets when finding out that someone’s keeping an eye on them was probably a million times worse.

This novel might very well be a wake up call to many about what you post online and what a window to your life it can be and for that (and the great story too) I highly recommend it!

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