The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley #BookReview

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Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants
A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?

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This must be one of the most anticipated books I had on my list this year so I was thrilled when I received approval to read an ecopy of this marvellous mystery. And it really is a great read. What a mastermind Lucy Foley is to bring all of these characters togethers in such an intruiging way. It almost felt like a locked-room type of novel and there are no plotlines I love more so I was compelled from the start, sympathising with the amateur sleuth of the story immediately.

Jess is a waitress at the Copacabana in the UK when one day she’s had enough of the clientele and her sexist boss and makes apparently such a memorable exit that she fears the police. She arrives in Paris where she’s going to stay with her brother Ben until she’s sorted herself out and found a new job. Unfortunately Ben’s not waiting for her as he promised, there is nobody home. She manages to find a way in but it doesn’t give her any clue about where he has gone. Did he go out to follow a lead or did something happen to him in his apartment? The further into the story the more she starts to think it was the last. She has no confidence in the police and would rather avoid them altogether, but can she trust Nick, the one who told Ben about the place he was staying in?

The story is told through the voices of Jess and the tenants in the building and the story always lists the name of the tenant and which floor they occupy on so I made a little drawing myself of the building in my notebook. The ice cold Sophie Meunier (and her husband Jacques) are staying in the penthouse, shy Mimi and her extraverted party-loving friend Camille are on the fourth floor, Jess is staying in Ben’s apartment on the third floor, his old university friend Nick is on the second and the alcoholic Antoine lives on the first floor. In a corner of the property there is also the concierge who seems to be all-seeing and is all-knowing.

I loved being in Paris. Yes it did feel like I was there. Jess drinks a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and orders a ricard in a Parisian café, she goes to the boulangerie and buys two delicious buttery croissants. What’s more, if you’ve ever wanted to learn the language it’s good to know that the author includes all the most popular swear words in French throughout the story, so you can never really lose sight of the fact that the novel is set in another country. Some readers who don’t enjoy books with profanity might be offended but I found it eh funny. Just when I thought ‘this is the only one missing’ (of course I know my vocabulary) bam, there it was :-).

Everyone in the story is hiding something about who they really are and it was difficult to guess those hidden truths. I really didn’t see that first big twist coming and it was such a good one! Another thing the characters all have in common is that they feel quite invisible. That was before Ben arrived of course because he makes himself liked more than some and loved by others which is very dangerous to do because that leaves plenty of room for jealousy. The story took a whole other turn than what I had imagined though, but it was really well plotted.

If I had known the theme involved in this novel I’m not sure I would have picked this novel so I’m happy that I didn’t know. The goings on in the apartment building did make up for it and it all makes sense in the end why everyone is acting the way that they are. The only thing I really didn’t like was how judgmental some people were about Sophie. She was judged and looked down on because of her past while there was absolutely no reason for it and I wish this opinion of some men wouldn’t find its way into fiction anymore because it keeps these kind of ill-advised thoughts alive. It also made me sad how Nick was afraid for his secret to come out. I think his was the only one I found out on my own.

The Paris Apartment held a lot of mystery and some cracking plot developments, I really enjoyed reading this!

I received a free ecopy from the publisher HarperCollinsUK, HarperFiction via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

Of dog walkers and yoga retreats: Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing | The Getaway by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen #AudioBookReviews

AudioBookReviews

I chose two short novellas (around 2 hours of listening time each) because I love reading books written by these authors and I wanted to see if their audiobooks would be equally brilliant.

SleepingDogsLie

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Shelby works as a dog walker in northern California, and she’s just finished up her bi-weekly trip to the park with a husky named Pluto. When she brings him back to his house, she finds his owner – Todd Burke, a well-known local businessman and founder of an organic supplements company – lying on the bathroom floor, dead. A detective arrives on the scene. As she interviews Shelby, the body is inspected by a medical examiner, and more cops search Todd’s home, it becomes clear that the victim’s life was less picture-perfect than his clean-cut persona might lead you to believe.

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If you love animals you’ll enjoy listening to this audiobook. I normally give novellas a miss but I fell for the mention of the author and the dog in Sleeping Dogs Lie. The author managed to create an entertaining mystery about the murder of a husky’s owner. Pluto seemed like a goofy and affectionate dog, especially with his interest in neighbouring little doggie Daisy. I didn’t expect the dog and his dog walker to be so front and center of the story but I loved that it revolves around them. Pluto’s owners had joined custody, his neighbour wanted him to leave his dog alone and threatened to kill Pluto…  So who killed Todd? Detective Grady tries to make sense of it all. There are a few suspects but I totally didn’t expect this outcome. Great twist and motive!

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TheGetaway

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Prepare yourself for a transformative experience. Sometimes, life’s setbacks contain hidden gifts. Here at Lakewood, you’ll find the space to unwrap them.

A weekend at the Lakewood Retreat is exactly what Chloe Powell needs. Freshly unemployed after her boss loses a reelection campaign, the former press secretary desperately wants a break from the bustle of Washington, DC. A flier posted at her yoga studio leads her to the getaway, which looks amazing: Organic meals, celebrity testimonials, and a serene private property within driving distance of the city.

It’s so perfect, in fact, that Chloe’s barely bothered by the intensely personal questions she’s asked in her application, or the unnerving social experiments her enigmatic host, Sebastian, imposes on her once she arrives at his remote cabin. But when a mysterious new guest shows up, Chloe can no longer suppress her rising panic: This place is not at all what it seems.

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star three and a half

Another duo that knows how to deliver unexpected twists. Unfortunately, for some reason and especially knowing what this author duo is capable of, I expected more from it. It started off really good, I was hooked at the start and alarm bells went off as soon as Chloé arrived at the retreat. There was that unsettling feeling where you can’t put your finger on what is wrong exactly hanging in the air and possible scenarios were trying to take form in my head. When another guest finally arrives it became clear what was going on but I didn’t feel as excited with this twist as I should have been. The tension was ramped up in the end and I did cheer Chloé along. This was ok but you’re not missing out if you haven’t listened to this.

I downloaded these audiobooks from Audible for free, as part of my membership. Do let me know what your thoughts were if you have listened to these audiobooks in the past!

You’ll Be The Death of Me by Karen McManus #BookReview

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Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close – best friends back in middle school.

Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time’s sake they skip school together – one last time.

But when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him – right into a murder scene.

They all have a connection to the victim. And they’re ALL hiding something.

When their day of freedom turns deadly, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .

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I absolutely loved the previous novel The Cousins so much that I pre-ordered You’ll Be The Death of Me and when it arrived I was even more excited to read it because it had beautiful deep purple page edges and a gleaming title on the cover (if you want to see check my Instagram page).

I truly love these multiple character novels. Not always but when Karen McManus writes them you will never ever hear me complaining. Has she written a novel yet with only one main character and one POV? Unless I’m mistaken I don’t think so but I don’t want her to change that, somehow she just always makes it work. The three main characters of this novel are all Carlton High students, a runner-up for class president (Ivy), her old high-school crush (Mateo), and the one with two dads but no friends (Cal). They are skipping school together because for various reasons they all need it that day and before you know it they stumble upon a dead body. They flee the scene when the police comes rolling in but when they hear one of them was spotted at the scene they have no choice but to find out who the killer is themselves.

With combined efforts they make good headway into finding out who killed their classmate. To succeed in finding the killer they do have to share the secrets they hold close at heart though. The first surprise is already the fact that Cal knows the person who owns that studio where their classmate was killed better than the others thought. What is it they say about still waters? Along the way the others reveal their own secrets too and it means that even more people will get involved in this tangled mess and might be very well be in danger. The only way out of this is to find out who the killer is before the killer finds them.

This is another solid Young Adult novel with likeable and interesting characters, and a real surprise ending. I knew who the culprit wasn’t but I actually didn’t find out the identity of the killer. I know I should have, but I didn’t and I can’t believe I missed it, but then maybe I was too entertained by the shenanigans of this wonderful trio.

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

What Might Have Been by Holly Miller #BookReview

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Is Lucy’s life ‘meant to be’ . . . or meant to be different?

Lucy’s life is at a crossroads. She’s just walked out of her unrewarding job and has no idea about her next step: use her savings to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, or move to London to try and revive her career? It almost seems like fate that on that same night she meets Caleb, a stranger in a bar, and runs into Max, the one-time love of her life.

Should Lucy stay in the seaside town she grew up in, and in doing so, get to know Caleb better? Or should she go to London and reconnect with Max again after he broke her heart a decade ago? It’s just one decision – but sometimes one decision can change the course of your whole life . . .

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Wow. This book was BRILLIANT! This was entirely my cup of tea. What Might Have Been gives the reader two stories in a sliding doors type of novel. Lucy finds herself in a café chatting to a handsome stranger named Caleb at a bar when she sees her ex Max through the window. Lucy read her horoscope and she knows she’s going to meet her soulmate that day. Is it Max or Caleb though?

After the brief encounter with both men there’s one timeline where she stays in Shoreley, finds a different job locally and sees Caleb again. In the other she goes to London and hopes to get the job she really wants at a big advertising agency. She also meets Max again, the guy she thought was her soul mate in the past already.

Both relationships were interesting to follow and there are some struggles to overcome in each of them. Caleb’s ex makes Lucy feel insecure and Max has never told her the entire truth why he broke things off with her and when he does it won’t make her feel very happy for a while.

Even though it maybe wasn’t the intention to create a personal preference for one man over the other, I did like Caleb most at the start. Maybe it was because he came with a clean slate and hadn’t broken her heart already, maybe because he was the most adventurous, or maybe because with him she didn’t go for the big money and professional acclaim but found her love for writing for herself again. In the end though I knew Max loved her very much too and I felt such turmoil that I wondered if it would be possible to have two happy endings and that you can meet two soul mates in your life. Which person would make her happiest? Or would they both be able to make her happy in different ways so that it didn’t really matter? I couldn’t stop turning those pages…

Lucy believes in signs and soulmates and she read that she was going to meet her soulmate that day when she was sitting at the bar alone. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s true, she does meet her soul mate that day. My heart was sad and happy at the same time! I was very happy with the way both plotlines in this story ended and it’s certainly a novel I’d love to reread one day.

If you enjoyed Holly Miller’s previous novel, you’ll certainly enjoy What Might Have Been too. I love stories with moral dilemma’s, forbidden love etc. and she was able to create this divine and almost impossible choice in this novel that gives heartbreak and joy in equal measures.

I received a free ecopy from the publisher Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

The Inheritance Games (Book #1 of 3) and The Hawthorne Legacy (Book #2 of 3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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She came from nothing.
Avery has a plan: keep her head down, work hard for a better future.
Then an eccentric billionaire dies, leaving her almost his entire fortune. And no one, least of all Avery, knows why.

They had everything.
Now she must move into the mansion she’s inherited.
It’s filled with secrets and codes, and the old man’s surviving relatives – a family hell-bent on discovering why Avery got ‘their’ money.

Now there’s only one rule: winner takes all.
Soon she is caught in a deadly game that everyone in this strange family is playing.
But just how far will they go to keep their fortune?

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I don’t read a lot of Young Adult novels but when I do I seem to pick the right ones. The Inheritance Games is a brilliant start of a trilogy. Avery Grambs is a very clever girl, I knew that off the bat, but exactly how clever I had yet to fully discover. 

One day she is invited to the reading of a will of a man she never even heard of and it turns out that she stands to inherit his entire fortune. The only catch is that she has to live at Hawthorne Mansion for a year which wouldn’t be so bad if his other relatives, who didn’t inherit what they feel was coming to them, didn’t live there too. Not a great way to feel very welcome is it? Tobias Hawthorne also leaves each grandchild and Avery a letter, not that Avery’s is very telling but it is the start of her search to answer the question ‘why was she in his will when she didn’t even know him?’

The clues were well thought out and very cleverly constructed. Lots of the names in this novel for example have a special and deeper meaning attached to them, but the key is to know where to look then. I loved how Avery made the right connections and went to the right places to discover yet another clue that would bring her a small step closer to finding out why she was the chosen one. Avery isn’t the only one trying to figure it out though. The four grandsons of Tobias were ‘trained’ by Tobias as he challenged them on a regular basis so this game-mode is in their blood and of course they also want to find answers. The four boys who are working towards the same goal are laid-back ‘cowboy’ Nate, confident but closed off Gray, thrill-seeking charmer Nate, and nerdy cookie lover Xander Hawthorne. Allegiances are made quite soon with Avery but is it not too good to be true, is she a friend or a pawn?

While all this terrific sleuthing is progressing Avery can’t help to let her eye fall on two of the Hawthorne Boys. That’s right not one but two and this makes this novel extra special. There’s a lot of chemistry and the electric attraction whenever Avery finds herself alone (and in danger) with one of them made my heart do little jumps of joy. I know a lot of readers don’t enjoy love triangles but it was so good! It was killing me that she didn’t know who to choose. If you read the novel you want to make your own choice of course so this novel will create a division in teams! I doubt she’ll follow my choice though, I have a feeling it will be the other boy.

The novel has short chapters that are of no help if you don’t want to be reading all night. Otherwise said, it was terribly addictive and the way the novel ended, with another big question waiting to be solved, made me want to continue right away with The Hawthorne Legacy!

I’ve read a few novels in this particular genre (I listened to The Christmas Murder Game and before that I read Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts,…) but The Inheritance Games is by far the best novel in this clue-solving genre I read up until now

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The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions – including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons.

As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture – by any means necessary.

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Could it be any better? Well yes it can! The Hawthorne Legacy is even better than the first and that one was already amazing. I’m so happy to hear that the series is going into production for tv! 

Avery Kylie Grambs is back and how! This one is all about exploring her past. Her mother – even though not a Hawthorne – also enjoyed playing games with her and one of their favourite games was ‘I have a secret’. Avery’s secrets as a young girl were not really worth to remember but her mother used to say she had an exciting secret about the day Avery was born… She never told her more than that but now Avery has a lead in her hands that could mean it’s the key to that secret.

The story is complex and filled with twists and turns. In the end we finally know why Avery was chosen and a lot more about her own past (and her mother’s) will have become clear. 

The chemistry with both boys was zinging in this novel again and while I was a bit cautious about one of them in the first novel because of some (game) player vibes, he seemed much more sincere and caring so the playing field was much more leveled out. If you ask me which team I’m on then all I can say is that I’m on the other team, so I am hoping there’s still some temptation in the third novel to keep it as interesting as before. 

You really need to read the series in order to be on board at the start of this novel but I’m sure you won’t regret that you need to read more than one of these novels. The last installment of the series, The Final Gambit is to be released in August 2022 and I can’t wait to dive in and see what new game she and the boys will embark on.

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C.S. Robertson #BookReview

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Death is not the end. For Grace McGill, it’s only the beginning.

When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.

When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.

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I’m sure everyone’s heard at least one story about someone who was found dead in their home for quite some time, months even. Their absence was not remarked upon by family, friends, not even their neighbours. How sad is that? Well the last person that takes note of them is the woman who cleans up after they are gone, it’s Grace Mc Gill, death cleaner.

Grace has a 10-step plan each time she needs to carry out a deep clean and it’s very thorough. Grace takes the reader (once or twice) through what happens after bodies start to decompose and how she needs to clean their final resting place. It’s a unique approach, it fascinated me and Grace is quite unique (and fascinating) as well. A little quirky right from the beginning maybe, because she lives alone with her cat George, thus leading a similar life to the people she cleans up after, and because she makes dioramas of the rooms the people who died were found in, right till the smallest detail. She is also at the beck and call of her father who’s an ugly drunk most of the time. They don’t seem to be able to stand each other so it was a real mystery to me why she didn’t just ignore his calls. There’s a lot more to be discovered about Grace and her family history but that would be spoiling things too soon.

At one house she finds newspapers of the same day but for different years and Grace packs them up with a few other mementos of the deceased to give to his next of kin, only to start wondering about the significance of the date of the papers once home. She also finds the strangest little thing next to his pillow, a little dried daisy. It won’t be the only time she’ll find this little flower either, but what does it mean and who left it there?

I found the investigation about Thomas Agnew’s past and the secret he took with him to his grave a little slow going in the first half of the novel, nobody wants to talk, everybody’s angry at her for asking questions and Grace walks around in the footsteps of another person without much result at first (I know I’m impatient!) but the significance of the daisy sure made up for it. This side of the story was so cleverly put together and I had not seen this coming at all.

Grace cares about the lonely people, the ones lying in their homes all alone, their absence unnoticed. Grace is a remarkable character, determined to solve a 56 year old secret that leads her to Bute and to age-old conspiracies. She’s a person I won’t easily forget, especially with the ending the author had in store for her, it was utterly fitting even though I felt a bit sadness about it as well.

The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill might be a little bit of a macabre read, but don’t let that put you off because it’s worth it! If you don’t mind your reads more on the darker side then make sure to put this one on the list, it’s so unique!

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

He Started It by Samantha Downing #BookReview

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No one knows you better than your family. They know your hopes and dreams. And your darkest secrets.

This is a story about three siblings. It’s about a secret they’ve all kept since they were children. It’s a story about lying. A story about murder. A story where only one can win…

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Thank you to my blog friend Jonetta for making me pick up one of Samantha Downing’s novels! Well the year has certainly ended on a high note with this novel! He Started It is a novel about a road trip. Scratch that, it’s a novel about a power trip, both in the present and past storyline.

After their grandpa died Beth, along with her siblings Eddie and Portia stand to inherit his estate, car and liquid funds. All they have to do to receive their inheritance is go on a road trip. Well not just any road trip but THE road trip, following the exact same route as the only other road trip they went on when they were children and their grandpa took them on to give their parents time alone to sort their differences.

He Started It is filled to the brim with secrets and lies, the characters are generally untrustworthy and greedy. Her older brother Eddie is a charming asshole, her younger sister Portia stole from her even when she was 6 years old so she might be up to her old tricks in the present. As for Beth herself, she doesn’t call herself a good person, she makes it clear from the start that she’s not hero, and she really isn’t a good person either but in the end I did still feel for her! Mission accomplished you amazing author!

This was literally the road trip from hell, it all starts going haywire fairly soon when they feel they are being followed by another car, but who and why? Are they even being followed or is it also a lie, Beth doesn’t know for sure. Strange things do start to happen when they’re not looking, things go missing, but is it an outsider or an insider… you just don’t know! On top of that the author drops plenty of twists and turns in the past roadtrip as well with great shock value. It only added to the suspense and it had me question every few pages what went wrong on that first roadtrip and what secret they’re not talking about.

This was unlike any other roadtrip I ever read about and I loved every second of this crazy trip. Maybe I would have liked it more if Beth was the one good person but in this family, how could she? I had no idea how this would end and this novel managed to surprise me right up to when I read the very last lines.

I can’t believe it’s only the first novel I read by Samantha Downing, but it will certainly not be my last! If you enjoy unpredictable stories, then you really need to add this one to your list!

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

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware #BookReview

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When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

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The Turn Of The Key is the creepy novel you didn’t know you needed (or wanted) to read. I’m not especially very much into scary novels myself and I stay far away from everything that might seem ghostly but this novel is an exception and I could hardly put it down.

The way the novel started alone was already a great beginning. Rowan writes to a solicitor to take her on as a client and explains that she’s accused of murdering someone but that she didn’t do it. What she doesn’t do is disclose the name of that person in her letter. It’s a high profile case so the solicitor will know very well who it is but the reader is kept in the dark. There are not so many characters in the novel but it remained an absolute mystery until the very end why or how she might have done it.  

Rowan hadn’t even set foot into Heatherbrae, the house of the Elincourt’s and already I was having unsettling vibes from the house itself so the impact of the intrusive high tech, combined with not so cooperative or friendly children to nanny and things that go bump in the evening or night.. well you know this one will play on your mind!

The whole novel is suspenseful from beginning to end and her writing was very convincing in making me believe what was happening. Things go missing which was bad enough but the strange sounds really made the goosebumps raise on my arms because I couldn’t find any reasonable explanation for it.

Rowan has her arms full with Petra, Ellie, Maddie and Rhianon and I wondered for which of the four children she was arrested and if she really was innocent. The story ends with another letter which gave some much needed answers and I love how the author brought the truth to light in this way. Even so, it still ends with some mystery about Rowan’s fate. I have my own thoughts about what happened to her in the end (convincted or not convicted) but I’ll never know for sure.     

This is the third novel I read by Ruth Ware (after The Lying Game and One by One) and I definitely haven’t had enough. I’ve already added her next novel IT Girl (expected July 2022) to my readlist!

I bought a copy of this novel in a secondhand bookshop. This is my honest opinion.

Olive by Emma Gannon #BookReview

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Independent.
Adrift.
Anxious.
Loyal.
Kind.
Knows her own mind.

OLIVE is many things, and it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

Moving, memorable and a mirror for every woman at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with great warmth and nostalgia, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood, milestone decisions and the ‘taboo’ about choosing not to have children.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

This is a story of friendship between a small circle of friends, namely Olive and her 3 best friends, Bea, Cecily (Cec) and Isla. Along the line they make different life choices so the plotline is told over a number of years, one timeline is where she and her friends are 22 years old and another at the age of 32 or 33. At 22 Olive and her friends lived parallel lives, but since then they have all spread their wings so to say and while they still meet at their favorite Italian restaurant on a regular basis and have vowed to stay friends and to always be there for each other, it is proving difficult to hold their unison intact ten years down the line. Bea is a mother of three children, Cec – who was the wild one, the disorganised one – is pregnant of her first child and Isla is waiting for another round of IVF. She desperately wants a child but it’s not happening. The odd one out is Olive and she feels that way too. She doesn’t want to have children and her relationship of 9 years fell apart because of it. With her friends all so busy and focused on babies she has trouble finding a listening ear and would they understand at all if she did tell them?

Even though I received a free copy of this novel in a giveaway, I was drawn to this novel immediately. I’m single now but I had two relationships of 11 years (it’s a magic number it seems) and neither relationship resulted in offspring. My first love didn’t want children and I was happy with our life, we enjoyed it to the fullest and I also didn’t want it to change. The second time I was older and slightly more open to it but decisions were made (snipsnip) so having a child was never going to happen.

So I welcomed the thought of a novel about choosing not to have children because it really is something that still is something of a taboo. When are you starting a family? No children yet? WHY NOT? I heard it a lot over the years and it makes me feel as if I need to defend myself over and over again. I was curious how Olive was going to experience her life choice and I expected that I’d be able connect with Olive and feel a kinship there.

While we’re in the same boat, Olive still has a slightly different mindset and while I can see positives and negatives for myself as much as others Olive seems to have more of a one track mind. I found Olive’s reactions to be generally speaking mostly negative, it’s not because you don’t choose children that you can’t enjoy being around them for a while (she’s horrified at the thought of having to babysit them even hypothetically). She certainly doesn’t acknowledge the joy a child can bring at all. Olive accuses her friends of not being there for her but is she there for them? She also wants their bubble to stay EXACTLY the way it was. People evolve though and nothing stays the same, I find it pretty amazing that they still managed to meet up at their restaurant with everyone’s busy lives, that alone takes dedication if you ask me, but Olive doesn’t realise this. She came across a bit naive on that part and a bit self-centered although she comes to realize this too and does make amends towards the end of the story.

What hit me the most though is that she finally finds other women who choose to live childfree (a different term than childless) after she wondered if she was the only person feeling that way but then she decides not to write an article about it for the magazine .dotcom that she works for. I didn’t understand this at all and I never found out what was in the article she ended up writing either. The ending did surprise me in some ways. It was mainly a happy surprise that Olive had changed enough by then that she was more accepting and understanding of her friends.

Pfew sorry for my long piece here where I had a lot to say about Olive. Overall a decent debut about friendships for life and the different angles of the life altering choice of motherhood.

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

The Coffinmaker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride #BookReview

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A house of secrets…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the sea. The trouble is: that’s where he’s been hiding the bodies.

A killer on the run…
It’s too dangerous to go near the place, so there’s no way of knowing how many people he’s murdered. Or how many more he’ll kill before he’s caught.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
As more horrors are discovered, ex-detective Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

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Stuart MacBride is a well-known author to me although I lost sight of his work over the last few years. I have now rediscovered how fond I am of his writing style peppered with metaphors, descriptions of people’s appearances to die for (what about: a face like a slab of concrete that’d been carved by a sadist; a greying beard trimmed to within an inch of its death; a head looking like something happened to one of the hairier muppets) and other punchy comments which make it all very humorous, so I definitely regret that I have let this happen. Apart from The Coffinmaker’s Garden I have 3 other MacBride novels in my library (photo on my Instagram if you care to see). I think I read two of them but I definitely seemed to have forgotten how witty and fun his writing is. It’s not just a well placed one liner in every 50 to 100 pages either but all throughout the novel. I loved the dry humour!

I blasted through this novel and despite this being the last novel of a trilogy, I had no problem engaging with Ash Henderson. I don’t know yet what happened to his foot or Rebecca, his wife so I need to go back to find out but that did not diminish my enjoyment of the story. I didn’t get a good grip on Alice though, the woman he apparently shares a house with. In a fleeting moment I wondered if they were lovers but aside from the age gap it also soon felt Ash’s protective stance was more fatherly than anything else. Alice, a psychotherapist (who seems to be in need of some therapy as well) is investigating the murders of some young boys and the disappearance of one, while Ash is assigned to this serial killer on the run. He not only has to find him but also identify his victims while he’s being chased, followed and blackmailed.

I read reviews saying there’s a lot of violence and while Ash Henderson does get battered (within an inch of his life even) quite a few times it does not get into any graphic details about the torture of the victims. If there’s one thing I would have changed about this novel it would be hearing more about the victims, why they were targeted, their backgrounds, how the killer’s wife fit into all of this, etc. but otherwise this novel is bloody perfect as it is.

There’s plenty to sink your teeth in and there’s really never a dull moment. Lots of action and investigating going on with main character Ash and his faithful sidekick Henry aka ‘the Scottie Dog Vehicle Defence System’. Who doesn’t want to read a novel with a dog in it (not that he’s very helpful but he’s so cute!)?

If you’re looking for a thriller that is action-packed, intriguing and has a good dose of humour, you need to put this one on your list! Believe me, you won’t regret it! I already was a fan but now I’m an even bigger fan!

I received a copy of this book in my Capital Crime book subscription box.