Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

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

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

October & November 2017 Books

October November Books

Death in the Stars by Frances Brody *
I’d probably say that a murder mystery is my favourite type of story, which is very much borne out by my 2017 list – there’s quite a few on there! This is one that I reviewed as part of a blog tour (you can read my full review here); I’ve reviewed the last three Kate Shackleton mysteries, and I’m a huge fan. I think the sense of time is spot on (speaking as someone who didn’t live through the post-war years), and the mysteries always keep me guessing!

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Enger *
This book has been floating around for ages; I follow so many bookish people on Twitter that when a book has a bit of hype around it, I see it mentioned over and over again – this is one such book. It lived up to the hype for me, luckily, despite having a subject matter that it dark and frankly horrifying. Over a decade after leaving grandparents’ vast estate in rural Kansas, Lane returns to look into the disappearance of her cousin Allegra. Being back in the small town brings back memories that Lane has tried to bury, and the narrative splits into two, weaving between Lane’s first summer in Roanoke and the present day, with a bit of old family history thrown in as well. This structure allows the tension to build, so we are left waiting to find out the reason for Lane’s abrupt departure in the past, and what has happened to her cousin in the present. It’s a really great novel, I just loved it.

He by John Connolly
He tells the story of Stan Laurel, famous for his comic partnership with Oliver Hardy. It’s a fictional account, something I had to keep reminding myself of throughout the story. While all the factual major life events are covered – his various marriages, his financial problems, how he came to star in so many films with Hardy – but the rest is a construct. But it’s beautifully imagined, and lends a tragic air to Laurel’s life. It took me a while to get through it, but ultimately I really liked it.

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler
Having recently renewed my Audible subscription, once a month I find myself trying to find a new audiobook to download. In October, I settled on this one, and then ended up regretting it slightly. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fascinating and well-researched list of 100 authors you may never have heard of. Some were prolific, some were incredibly famous for a short time, but most of whom the average reader probably have heard. My problem wasn’t with the book, nor wit hthe narrator (it was read engagingly by the author), but with the fact that I should have read it, rather than listened to it, as it would have made list making a lot easier!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng *
This was another book where I read a lot of the hype about the book before I finally got to read the story itself. I really do love it when I have a lot of good things about a book, and then an email lands in my inbox asking if I’d like to be part of a blog tour for it! You can read my review hereLittle Fires Everywhere is a slow story, but not to its detriment. It just takes time to build the characters, and the setting of Shaker Heights, meaning that everything that happens to them is felt on a deep level.

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter *
My iPad is full of books that I have downloaded from Netgalley and not got around to reading or reviewing, so when I was on the Eurostar on my way to Disneyland Paris last month, I decided to delve in and find one. I landed on Bonfire by Krysten Ritter, another book that I have heard good things about, but one that ultimately, I wanted to read because I like Krysten Ritter. I wasn’t disappointed; it’s a great thriller about a corporate cover up that descends into something even more nasty.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
This has been all over Instagram as a festive read, and though I tried to reserve it at the library, I ended up having to buy it as a Kindle download. It’s a World War I story about a young couple who start off as friends, but through their wartime correspondence begin to fall in love. It’s an epistolary novel, which is one of my favourite types of story, and it’s beautifully written. It reminded me a little of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.

Books in 2017 – 37

August & September 2017 Books

August-&-September-Books

This is how behind I am with every single blog post that I have been meaning to write – these are the books I read in August and September. It’s now November!

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz*
This is the second Horowitz book I’ve read this year, having previously enjoyed Magpie Murders. This is another unusual set-up; though it’s a work of fiction, Horowitz inserts himself as a character into the story. The character in the story is approached by a former detective, who is working as a consultant on a murder, and wants a book written about it. It may seem gimmicky, but it really worked for me. The murder mystery itself was compelling, and kept me guessing – all in all an enjoyable read!

Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Tin Man is a beautiful book; it took me just a day to finish it , because I found it very hard to put down once I had become immersed in the story. It’s an incredibly moving story about life, love and loss, with characters who became so real to me that they have remained with me even at a distance of months. It’s a captivating story that doesn’t honestly have a huge amount of plot, but weaves a beautiful story all the same.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal*
One of my 35 Before 35 items was to try and read more diversely. I have failed miserably in this; despite trying hard I have let myself down! When this popped up on Netgalley, I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did – trying to read more diversely is about opening my eyes to ideas, cultures, histories and experiences that are different from my own. This was a fun and silly book, but it gave me an insight into the way that British Sikhs live that I didn’t have before.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
I spotted Pax in Waterstones when I was out shopping one Saturday morning, and it immediately appealed to me. It’s the story of a fox and his boy companion; Peter rescued Pax as a kit, and developed a strong bond, as they had both recently lost their mothers. The book follows them both as they are separated from one another, and trying to find each other again. The writing is beautiful, with the foxes in particuarly being characterised quite wonderfully, and it also includes some lovely illustrations. But I have to confess that I was a little disappointed with the ending.

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve recently renewed my Audible subscription, and this was the first book that I downloaded. I had seen such a lot of hype about this Young Adult book about the D.C. Comics character that I was keen to read it. It tells the story of a young woman from modern day New York, who ends up crashing onto Themyscira, home to the Amazons, and Diana Prince, also known as Wonder Woman. When Diana discovers that Alia is the Warbringer, descended from Helen of Troy and destined to bring about the end of the world, she takes it upon herself to save Alia, therefore saving the world.
It took me a while to get into this, and I wonder if it’s because I was listening rather than reading, or if it did indeed take a while to get going. I ended up really enjoying it though; this may have had something to do with just how much I loved the recent Wonder Woman film, but that notwithstanding, it’s a dynamic story, set partly on Theymyscira, and partly in our world. It’s an exciting and well-written story that I would highly recommend to anyone, regardless of your comic book background.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.

Books in 2017 – 30

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