Daddy by Emma Cline #bookreview

About the book…

The stories in Emma Cline’s stunning first collection consider the dark corners of human experience, exploring the fault lines of power between men and women, parents and children, past and present. A man travels to his son’s school to deal with the fallout of a violent attack and to make sure his son will not lose his college place. But what exactly has his son done? And who is to blame? A young woman trying to make it in LA, working in a clothes shop while taking acting classes, turns to a riskier way of making money but will be forced to confront the danger of the game she’s playing. And a family coming together for Christmas struggle to skate over the lingering darkness caused by the very ordinary brutality of a troubled husband and father.

These outstanding stories examine masculinity, male power and broken relationships, while revealing – with astonishing insight and clarity – those moments of misunderstanding that can have life-changing consequences. And there is an unexpected violence, ever-present but unseen, in the depiction of the complicated interactions between men and women, and families. Subtle, sophisticated and displaying an extraordinary understanding of human behaviour, these stories are unforgettable.

My thoughts on Daddy by Emma Cline…

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb #bookreview

After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…

One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.

As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past.

My thoughts on Daughters of the Lake

Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz #bookreview

An unlikely pair teams up to investigate a brutal murder in a haunting thriller that walks the line between reality and impossibility.

When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted criminal who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started.

Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in.

Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?

My thoughts on Forgotten Bones…

I’m not a huge fan of books with a supernatural element. Every now and then, though, I read one and am surprised. So when I see one with good reviews, I sometimes think “why not?” That was the case Forgotten Bones, and I can see why people like it. Susan and Eric are interesting and likeable and the plot has some good twists and turns and an ending I almost didn’t seem coming,

However, for me, it didn’t quite hit the mark. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One is hard to explain without spoilers so I’ll just say Susan makes a decision early on that I didn’t understand and kept bugging me because it I didn’t think the type of cop she was then described would have done the same thing, the second was the FBI. They turn up and don’t seem to do much but make coffee and ignore the local police. I could have done without them to be honest.

In reality, these are small gripes that probably wouldn’t bother anyone else. They’ve just left me not able to go the full four stars I would give it otherwise (on Amazon as I don’t rate on the blog).

Emma x

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh #bookreview

Blue Ticket Sophie Mackintosh

From the Man Booker Prize longlisted author of The Water Cure – discover this chilling new novel about motherhood, free will and fate, human longing and animal instinct

‘The cool intensity and strange beauty of Blue Ticket is a wonder – be sure to read everything Sophie Mackintosh writes’ Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk

‘A gripping, sinister fable’ Margaret Atwood on The Water Cure

Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back.

But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?

Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.

My thoughts on Blue Ticket

The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reed #bookreview

The Day I Disappeared Brandi Reeds

About the book…

Three months after four-year-old Holly Gebhardt was kidnapped, she was inexplicably returned to the same park from which she’d vanished…with no memory of the ordeal. Though a local handyman was convicted, suspicion also fell on his friend—Holly’s mother, Cecily. The troubling doubts about her involvement shattered the family, forever driving a wedge between mother and daughter.

Twenty years later, another girl goes missing under eerily similar circumstances. It’s just the latest in a series of kidnappings that Detective Jason Guidry thinks Holly can help solve. Though Holly has tried to move on with her life, a young girl’s life hangs in the balance. All she has to do is try to remember…

With her memory still mostly blank, Holly is missing vital pieces of the puzzle, and she believes her mother can put them in place. In desperation and fear, Holly and her mother come together again. But in a chilling rush toward the past, Cecily still has secrets she’s yet to share with her daughter. Should she dare to breathe a word, she could lose Holly all over again.

My thoughts on The Day I Disappeared…

How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran #bookreview

How to be Famous Caitlin Moran

I’m Johanna Morrigan. It’s 1995. I’m nineteen and I live in the epicentre of Britpop. Parklife!

My unrequited love, John Kite, is busy with a Number One album, world-tour, drugs, and a nervous breakdown.

So, I’ve started hanging out with hot young comedian Jerry Sharp. Big mistake.

“He’s a vampire,” my friend Suzanne warns. “One of those men who destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick.”

Unfortunately, I’ve already had sex with him. Bad sex. And now, I’m one of the girls he is trying to destroy.

I know I have to stop him. But how does one girl fight a famous, powerful man?

A novel about friendship, feminism and finding your place in the world.

My thoughts on How to Be Famous…

Caitlin Moran makes me laugh.  She always has. She also makes me think about what it means to be a woman today.  I’m only a few years older than her, and the things she writes about hit a note with me, especially as I went to London just after turning 18; a lot of her experiences sound very similar to ones I had when I first moved there.  In How to Be Famous, there’s Brit Pop too, a time it was fun to live through but is often now seen with rose-coloured glasses – not all of it was brilliant and there was plenty of sexism about that makes me cringe now.

I like that Moran shines a light on this. I like that she tells a story of what it was like to be a young woman navigating her way around a male-dominated industry with humour but also honesty. The book made me laugh out loud more than once, which I don’t often do.  At the same time there was something missing for me here that hasn’t been missing in Moran’s other books.  And I think it’s because there was a love story going on – and I just don’t do well with love stories.

Which means it was a bit ‘it wasn’t you, it was me’ with this book.  I don’t think it was one I was destined to read and would probably have passed on if it wasn’t for the author herself.  Would I recommend it? Yes, I still would. But with the caveat, it’s got a love story at it’s core so if that isn’t for you, this book won’t be.

Enjoy!

Emma x

 

 

 

Don’t Make a Sound by T. R. Ragan #bookreview

Dont make a sound T R Ragan

Plagued by traumatic childhood memories, crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still struggles to gain control of her rage, her paranoia, and her life. Now, after finally getting promoted at work, she is forced to return home and face her past.

River Rock is where she’d been abandoned by her two older sisters to suffer alone, and in silence, the unspeakable abuses of her family. It’s also where Sawyer’s best friend disappeared and two teenage girls were murdered. Three cold cases dead and buried with the rest of the town’s secrets.

When another girl is slain in a familiar grisly fashion, Sawyer is determined to put an end to the crimes. Pulled back into the horrors of her family history, Sawyer must reconcile with her estranged sisters, who both have shattering memories of their own. As Sawyer’s investigation leads to River Rock’s darkest corners, what will prove more dangerous—what she knows of the past or what she has yet to discover?

My thoughts on Don’t Make a Sound…

On paper, Don’t Make a Sound seems like the perfect book for me.  There’s murder, mystery, a dysfunctional family, and more than one strong female character. When it came to reading what was on that paper, however, something just didn’t click.  I wanted to like it.  I just didn’t, at least not as much as I wanted to.

I’ve tried to put my finger on exactly why that is and I think it’s because it was a bit too much. There were two interconnected stories being played out here, both of which would have made great books in and of themselves but combined gave me ‘reading whiplash’. I didn’t know where to put my energies. Just when I got into one plot, the other came round again and I felt ‘snapped back’ into another world.

My other problem was the relationship between the three female protagonists. It was dysfunctional, which I normally love. But it didn’t quite feel right or real.  I am not convinced that the secrets not shared would have stayed that way.  It felt manufactured for the story. I didn’t like that.  Which meant I didn’t end up enjoying the book anywhere near as much as I wanted to.  A shame, but you can’t have every book be a winner can you?

Emma x

Never Look Back by Mary Burton #bookreview

Never Look Back Mary Burton

After multiple women go missing, Agent Melina Shepard of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation makes the impulsive decision to go undercover as a prostitute. While working the street, she narrowly avoids becoming a serial killer’s latest victim; as much as it pains her to admit, she needs backup.

Enter lone wolf FBI agent Jerrod Ramsey. Stonewalled by a lack of leads, he and Melina investigate a scene where a little girl has been found abandoned in a crashed vehicle. They open the trunk to reveal a horror show and quickly realize they’re dealing with two serial killers with very different MOs. The whole situation brings back memories for Melina—why does this particular case feel so connected to her painful past?

Before time runs out, Melina must catch not one but two serial killers, both ready to claim another victim—and both with their sights set on her.

My thoughts on Never Look Back…

Anyone who reads my blog, will know I love crime fiction and I love a strong central female character.  I got both with Never Look Back, which made me very happy.  I liked Melina a lot.  She’s strong, feisty, and not afraid to take risks. I also liked the story, or rather stories, as there were two running side by side here.  It kept things interesting.

Unfortunately, along with a compelling piece I crime writing, I also got a love story.  Which is where it went a bit wrong for me.  I don’t do romance (though I have no problems with my characters being in relationships).  It’s my own fault, I bought the book on impulse and didn’t look at other reviews.

Saying that, it the romance wasn’t so in my face as to put me off and the story kept me happily reading along.  Would I read another in the series? I’m not sure, but I think anyone who reads this book will enjoy themselves.

Emma x

Uncrowned Queen by Nicola Tallis #bookreview

Uncrowned Queen Nicola TallisIn 1485, Henry VII became the first Tudor king of England. His victory owed much to his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. Over decades and across countries, Margaret had schemed to install her son on the throne and end the War of the Roses. Margaret’s extraordinarily close relationship with Henry, coupled with her role in political and ceremonial affairs, ensured that she was treated — and behaved — as a queen in all but name. Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and ambition, court intrigue and war, historian Nicola Tallis illuminates how a dynamic, brilliant woman orchestrated the rise of the Tudors.

My thoughts on Uncrowned Queen…

Left for Dead by Caroline Mitchell #BookReview

Left for Dead Caroline MitchellA victim on display. A detective on the rails.
Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.

This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.

As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?

My thoughts on Left for Dead…

The image of a dead body posed as a mannequin in a bridal shop is one of the creepiest and cleverest murder scenes I’ve encountered for a while. It’s stayed with me since I read Left for Dead (which was about a month ago – I’m way behind on reviews), as has the book as a whole because it’s really good.

What did I like about it? The central character Amy Winter for a start. This is the third book in a series – the others are crackers too – and she makes a great main protagonist. She’s smart, dogged, and just that little bit messed up thanks to a crappy childhood that you’ll need to read book one to find out more about.

These traits mean she won’t let go of a case till she’s solved it. They also mean she has a tendency to put herself in danger.  Which brings me to my second ‘like’, the suspense that runs through the book. It does keep you on the edge of your seat, even though you know who the killer is from the beginning. This is hard to do and I think Caroline Mitchell should be commended for doing it so well.

And that leads me quite nicely into the third main reason I enjoyed this book. The writing.  Caroline Mitchell is good. She paints a great picture and makes you believe in what is happening on the page. If the book I’d read before it hadn’t been so mediocre, I may not have realised just how good. It definitely made a sharp contrast. And it’s why – if I used a star rating – I’d definitely go for five stars. A great read and highly recommended.

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opini