Archive of ‘books’ category

Blog Tour ~ Force of Nature by Jane Harper

26363669_820356591500735_835523176619311104_nAlice Russell is missing. She went on a team building exercise in the Australian bush, with the company on who she is currently whistleblowing, and while her four colleagues made it back safely, she didn’t, and nobody seems to know what happened.

Aaron Falk, the federal police agent who readers first met in Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry, has been secretly working with Alice to uncover some of the financial wrongdoing of the company she works with. When he discovers that she is missing, despite being an officer with the financial division, he’s drawn into the investigation,

Following on from The Dry, which I read and reviewed last year, I had no idea that Jane Harper’s next novel would feature Aaron Falk, figuring that this would be a stand-alone novel. The story itself is completely distinct from the family murder from Harper’s first book, but the consistency in the lead investigator of Falk is great; he’s a great character who I really enjoy spending time with. Although the focus of the story is with the missing Alice, Force of Nature continues to explore Falk’s relationship with his father, which made up a large part of the first book.

The case itself is a fun one to follow; the timeline splits into two, so we start almost at the end, with four women emerging from the outback, and one of them missing. We then go back to the start, discovering each woman’s character, and finding out exactly what happened, and why Alice goes missing. Interspersed with this action, we are part of the investigation with Falk, so as the police start to piece together what has happened, the narrative from the lost women approaches its climax, and the two timelines culminate together.

It’s a really fantastic crime novel, and it builds to such a pace that, as with all good crime stories, you reach a point where the whodunnit/what happened is so close to being revealed that you won’t want to put it down before you find out!

 

 

January 2018 Books

January Reads

The first month of the year was a good one for me, in terms of reading. I made a conscious effort to set aside more time for reading, instead of going to bed and playing on my phone while I listen to podcasts. I love podcasts, but I love reading more, so it’s important to me that I make the time. My next step is to buy an alarm clock so that I can put my phone on the other side of the room, because when I charge it near my bed, the temptation to check Instagram becomes too great!

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
With The Last Jedi in cinemas just before Christmas, along with the one-year anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death, the fact that I had never read any of her books was on my mind when I was browsing through Amazon at the 3 paperbacks for £10. I added this one in and got to reading it right away. I enjoyed it up to a point; there’s no denying that Fisher was a wonderful writer, able to construct a witty one-liner at any given opportunity, and unflinchingly honest about her relationship with Harrison Ford, which forms the backbone of the book. But I wish so much space hadn’t been given to the actual diary entries in the middle of the book; I much preferred her retrospective look at her brief relationship with Ford, and her time on the set of the first Star Wars film.

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
I’ve never read anything by Holly Bourne, but I know she’s a darling of the YA scene. I’m not a huge YA reader – not because I don’t like the books, just because I don’t often read them, but I thought I’d give this one a go. Maybe I started with the wrong book, but I wasn’t entirely won over. It’s the story of a teenager called Audrey (why do YA heroines always have to have unusual names?), who is trying to deal with her parents’ messy divorce, and her own painful break up at the same time, while starting a new part time job and doing her A-Levels and worrying about the future. And of course, there’s a new romance to think about as well. It’s not that I thought it was a bad book, I just think maybe I hadn’t managed my expectations. I just found the whole thing a little bit samey as many other YA romances that I’ve read. There’s even room for a gay best friend!

Seven Year Itch by Victoria Corby
When I was a bit younger, I devoured chick-lit novels. At the start of the 2000s, all of those books seemed the same; a mid-to-late twenties woman who was either very successful in her career, or very unsuccessful, who went to All Bar One after work, who met a man who she initially had some sort of conflict with but with whom she ended up living happily ever after. This was one of those books, and I read it back then, and for some reason, certain sections have lodged themselves in my memory, but the title and author had escaped me. One night last month I was awake in the middle of the night, had a flash of inspiration, and downloaded the Kindle Unlimited version of it. It’s not a great book, but the story of a property scandal in the countryside is mildly entertaining, and it’s not hard to see how it could be re-written for 2018 if you take out some of the questionable gender politics and add in some slightly diverse characters (but no need to go overboard, Katie Fforde manages to write book after book about straight, white, middle class people).

Force of Nature by Jane Harper*
I have a full review of Force of Nature coming soon, so I won’t say too much here. But it’s a follow up to Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry, which I read and reviewed at the very start of 2017. The case has changed completely, but the common thread is Aaron Falk, the police officer in The Dry who had returned to his hometown and found himself caught up in a murder case. As a federal police officer in the financial crimes department, Falk surprisingly once again finds himself caught up in an unusual case, as this time he ends up investigating after one of his key witnesses in an embezzlement case goes missing on a staff training course in a dense forest. Suffice to say, I really loved this book, and whizzed through it to find out what had happened and how it had happened. Full review coming next week!

Meet Cute by Various Authors
A short story anthology by various YA authors, Meet Cute features tales of ‘how they met’. There’s two teenage girls who meet after one lodges a customer service complaint via Twitter, and the other does everything she can to help her. There’s a futuristic story about the Department of Love, reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine, who perform relationship autopsies and the provide the chance to go back and try again. There are lots of lovely stories, some more engaging than others, and they are super diverse and inclusive (though off the top of my head I can’t remember if there are any male-male stories), and it was really enjoyable to listen to.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
This is a novel that was on just about every ‘Books to look forward to in 2018’ list, I was lucky enough to be offered it as a review copy. It follows four siblings who go together to see a psychic when they are children in 1960s New York; they are each told the date on which they will die, and the rest of the novel branches off in four directions as they live their lives under the shadow of the prediction. I will be reviewing this one in full closer to the publication date next month, but for now I’ll just say that I really liked it, and I’ve already recommended it to everyone I know!

Books read so far in 2018 – 6

Library List 009

I haven’t done a library list in a while, but of course, I am always taking advantage of the reservation system at the library, to reserve books that I want to read and hope that they don’t all come in at the same time!

Library-List-1

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This is on my list because it’s one of the Guardian’s Top 10 epistolary novels that I am going to try and read as part of my 36 Before 36 challenge. It was on the reading list at university, but it was one of those that I didn’t get round to reading in full (there were a few of them!). This book is actually available to pick up now, I just have to get to the library!

Lullaby by Leila Slimani
I have no idea where I heard about this, but I suspect it was on one of those ‘Books to be excited about in 2018’ lists that I have to be really restrained around. It’s about a nanny who works for a Parisian couple looking after their two children, and it sounds like a terrific thriller, so I’m excited to read it.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
I spotted this on an Instagram account that I follow and love (@topshelftext); Madeline posted about it at the end of last year, and liked it so much that she edited her top ten of the year list to include it! That was enough for me; I almost downloaded the audiobook of it, but changed my mind at the last minute and added to my library list. It’s the first in a series as well, so I’m hoping it’s going to yield lots of good reading.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
I’ve had this reserved since the middle of November, and it still hasn’t arrived, which speaks to its popularity! It was one of the big children’s books of 2017, and was everywhere for a while, so I’m hoping it will arrive soon.

Library-List-2

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Part of another challenge – I asked Janet from Someone Somewhere to recommend a book (one of my 36 Before 36 is to get recommendations from 20 people and read them all), and this is what she came up with. It went straight onto the library list, and I’m looking forward to getting into it.

The Watcher by Charles MacLean
When I put this post together, I assumed that another one that was on one of my challenge lists, but it’s not. It turns out that this has been on reserve since October, which means that it is more than likely one that I wanted to read for Halloween, as it is a horror. Now that I’m looking at it, in all honesty I probably won’t get around to reading it, and I will probably end up taking it off my list!

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
This one is on the Guardian’s top ten list of novels on rural America. I’ve not read much Toni Morrison before, which is a travesty considering that I studied American literature for three years. I believe that this book is already at the library, waiting for me to pick it up.

The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
Another one that appeared on a load of ‘Best of 2018’ lists at the start of the year, and it’s not actually out until next week. It’s clearly influenced by Rear Windowas it’s about a woman who is housebound, and while looking out of her window, witnesses something in a neighbour’s flat. It certainly sounds like another exciting addition to the psychological thriller that doesn’t show any signs of going anywhere.

The Bookish Side of Life #5 ~ TBR

Library Haul

If you’re a reader, chances are you have a TBR pile. For the unitiated, TBR means ‘to-be-read’. For some people, this is a small pile of books on your bedside table, maybe in the order you’d like to read them. For others, along with that pile, there might be another pile somewhere else in the house. And then for others, there’s an entire bookshelf full of books that you have acquired that you definitely want to get around to reading.

Reading isn’t a competition, so it doesn’t matter if you’re in the first camp, or the third, or you fall somewhere different altogether. But I’ve been thinking about my own TBR pile recently – there’s a pile on the floor of my bedroom that I definitely want to read, so I don’t want to donate them to charity, or give them away. But that doesn’t stop me from picking up at least one book at the library every time I go, or scouring the shelves of a charity shop, or popping another book into my online basket when I get the chance.

That’s because I’m a reader, and as much I would like to pretend that I want to get through my TBR pile, secretly I just want to add to it. I just want to be surrounded by books, so that when I put one down, I have a multitude to choose from to read next. And I think that most readers would probably say the same. We might put ourselves on book buying bans, but we don’t really want to get to the bottom of the pile. We just want more books to read, all the time.

December 2017 Books

December-books

I didn’t actually realise that I hadn’t read anything in December that wasn’t a festive story, but they all were! I was trying to tick off ‘Read five Christmas books’ from my 36 Before 36 list, and with these and Last Christmas in Paris that I finished in November, I’ve ticked it off!

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
This has been on my Christmas reading list for years, but somehow I have just never got around to it. This year, I reserved it at the library nice and early. In age old Poirot fashion, the story involves the murder of a wealthy old man, whose family have convened at their old family home for Christmas. It’s not the best Poirot story that I’ve ever read, but as ever, it involves a convoluted plot, plenty of red herrings and imposters, and a clever reveal. It’s well worth adding to your festive reading list for the future.

Christmas at the Dancing Duck by Daisy James
With a specific festive book goal in mind, I resorted to Kindle bargains when some of my library reservations didn’t arrive in time. This was one of those bargains, though that word suggests a piece of quality work for a small amount of money. I hate being overly negative, but this book was not for me. Granted, you have to expect a certain type of book when you’re dealing with a cover like this, but it was sloppily written, had annoying characters, and a silly conclusion that I saw coming a mile off. It wasn’t for me, sadly!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Horniak
Christmas books so often revolve around family coming back together, and not getting on, and that’s exactly what happens here. When Olivia returns home from Sierra Leone, where she’s been treating victims of Haag Disease, she has to go into quarantine with her family for a week. This is a family with secrets, who don’t actually seem to enjoy spending too much time together, so the forced proximity is not welcome. We get alternating points of view throughout the novel, so we are able to empathise with the family members, even if I spent most of my time wanting to knock their heads together. This isn’t a criticism however; I don’t have to like a character to find them well-written and engaging.

The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver
I bought this at the same time as Christmas at the Dancing Duck, and after that one failed to set my world on fire, I didn’t hold out great hopes for this one either. But I was pleasantly surprised. It’s the story of two sisters who have grown up mostly separately after the divorce of their parents saw them living apart. Ella has forged a successful career in London and lives well with her upper class husband, while Maddy, the younger sister, has lived in Greece with her mum, living a simple life as a waitress, but dreams of fame as a singer. Through a contrivance of events, the sisters swap places for Christmas, and have to work through their own issues, which thankfully are not all relationship and men related. It’s a predictable ending, and the story won’t stay with me, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it.

Books in 2017 – 41

36 Before 36 – Read five Christmas books

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