My Week in Reviews: 28th November, 2021

Happy Sunday everyone! For those in the states, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. For those in the UK, I hope you weren’t too battered by Arwen. We lost our pergola but otherwise our house survived unharmed (unlike my neighbour, who lost most of her fence and a shed). I hope this isn’t a sign for things to come weather-wise…I really don’t like wind and rain!

Blog wise, I’m patting myself on the back for making it through another week of getting reviews posted regularly – I know it’s only two weeks in a row but given my track record the last few years, it’s a start. Plus, I started to get into the habit of visiting and commenting on other bloggers’ posts – I think the community is something I missed more than writing reviews.

Write I did, though. I got two reviews written and posted. First up, was These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall, which I liked but didn’t love – mainly because I couldn’t get away with the main character Mickie (she drove me potty!). Then I reviewed Americanaland by John Milward – a very different type of book as it looks at the history of Americana music, something I’ve come really enjoy over the last decade (after spending most of my life as an ‘indie kid’). It’s a really interesting book but so full of facts that I feel like I need to re-read it to get the full benefits of Milward’s knowledge.

Next up for me is A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes, and after that I’m not quite sure. I made the mistake of going onto Netgalley earlier in the week and requesting a few too many books (assuming I wouldn’t get approved for them all given how long it’s been since I’ve logged on – oh how wrong I was!) so I may need to start on at least one of those. Who knows though. One thing I’m determined to do is not get bogged down in review copies as I think that put me off reading at the start of ‘the slump’.

What about you – what are your plans, reading and otherwise, for the week?

Emma x

Joining in with the Sunday Post and Kimberly, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Good as Dead by Susan Walter #BookReview

Holly Kendrick’s husband is dead. Holly saw it all. In one violent moment, a hit-and-run accident turns Holly’s life upside down. Then a fixer for the high-powered guilty party approaches Holly with an offer she is in no position to refuse. Holly and her daughter, Savannah, will want for nothing, beginning with a luxury dream house—all for the price of their silence. But when their sudden appearance in privileged Calabasas, California, piques the curiosity of neighbors, the price becomes greater than they imagined. Because Holly and Savannah aren’t the only ones in the neighborhood with something to hide.

Told from alternating points of view, Good as Dead draws together an unlikely group of people bound to one another by a crime, a cover-up, and compounding deceptions. As carefully constructed lives begin to crumble, how far will everyone be willing to go to bury the truth and protect the people they love?

My thoughts on Good As Dead

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The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?

Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.

That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…

My thoughts on The Perfect Life…

Like Vanessa, I love looking at houses online, imagining where I’d like to live if I won the lottery and money was no object. Unlike Vanessa, I don’t book myself in for a viewing. I can see why she does though. Pretending to be someone else, even if just for a little while, is very tempting. Especially when your world is falling apart, which Vanessa’s definitely is.

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The Shadow Man by Helen Fields #bookreview

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggie and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
 
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
 
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
 
And he’s watching.

My thoughts on The Shadow Man…

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Helen Fields, whose ‘Perfect’ series I was addicted to for a while. As has happened with other series I’ve enjoyed though, I couldn’t stay caught up and – eventually – stopped reading them. It was nice, then, to see a new book with new characters. And what interesting character they were.

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Two Widows by Laura Wolfe #bookreview

I’d grown desperate for company since the discovery of the dead woman in town…

Gloria lives alone in an old farmhouse surrounded by empty land, miles from the nearest town in northern Michigan. Widowed and grieving her husband, mourning her broken relationship with her estranged son, lonely Gloria searches for answers in self-help books and has only faded photographs and stacks of unpaid bills for company. Her days all look the same.

Then the dead body of an unidentified young woman is found on the beach near Gloria’s house.

When freelance travel writer Beth arrives with her trailer to live on Gloria’s land, Gloria is relieved not to be alone. The police have no suspects in the murder and fearless Beth makes Gloria feel safe. Then Gloria discovers Beth is a widow too: the women become closer and begin to share their secrets.

But soon Gloria starts to wonder… what does she actually know about Beth? About what brought her to this isolated spot? About how her husband really died? Is it a coincidence that she’s arrived just as this small town has seen its first murder in decades?

Gloria thought that Beth had told her all her secrets. She was wrong.

My thoughts on Two Widows…

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The Tenant by Katrine Engberg #bookreview

They share a house.
And all its secrets . . .

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case.

They quickly establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her complex landlady, Esther. Esther is a budding novelist – and when Julie features as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows more urgent.

But is Esther guilty or merely another victim in a far more dangerous game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the secret that links them both . . 

My thoughts on The Tenant…

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The Doll by Yrsa Sigurdardottir #bookreview

It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever.

They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared.

Several years later and Detective Huldar is in his least favourite place – on a boat in rough waters, searching for possible human remains. However, identifying the skeleton they find on the seabed proves harder than initially thought, and Huldar must draw on psychologist Freyja’s experience to help him. As the mystery of the unidentified body deepens, Huldar is also drawn into an investigation of a homeless drug addict’s murder, and Freyja investigates a suspected case of child abuse at a foster care home.

What swiftly becomes clear is that the cases are linked through a single, missing, vulnerable witness: the young girl who wanted the doll all those years ago.

My thoughts on The Doll

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Scandi Noir-style books (I know that technically Iceland isn’t in Scandinavia but there are a lot of similarities) and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. And I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. She has a wonderful way of crafting a story that is just that little bit different from your average police procedural.

The Doll is no exception. The opening is slightly spooky, with the dredging up of a doll from the sea bed and the death of the woman who found it before moving between a number of cases, all of which slowly come together in a way that makes perfect sense – even though you kind of know they shouldn’t.

The fact that they do work well together is down to the skill of Sigurdardottir and you have to marvel at that. I was pretty impressed too by the fact that, for quite a long book, there wasn’t any ‘saggy’ bits, the parts that drag and make you wonder if you should give up.

I never wanted to do that. What I wanted was to stay up late and keep reading. I thought the plot was great (though hard to write about without spoilers), and the characters interesting – the type you want to know more about. For me, this was a real page turner. The type of book I will be thinking about for a while – and will definitely be recommending to others.

Enjoy!

Emma x

Please note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

The Patient Man by Joy Ellis

The domestic bliss of Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman of Fenland Constabulary doesn’t last long. His nemesis, serial killer Alistair Ashcroft, is back in town and ready to tidy up unfinished business.

Ashcroft sends a sinister text to DS Marie Evans. His opening move in what will prove to be a lethal game of cat-and-mouse. Yet for all his taunts, where is he? In a county crawling with police on the lookout for him, Ashcroft is nowhere to be found.

EVERYONE JACKMAN CARES ABOUT IS IN DANGER

A LETHAL GAME WITH A VERY PATIENT MAN

CAN THEY FINALLY STOP ALISTAIR ASHCROFT?

My thoughts on The Patient Man…

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The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is found draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  

Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.
 
As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline. 

What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

My thoughts on The Babysitter…

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