Book review: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Friday, April 9, 2021 Permalink

One of the biggest problems with a book getting rave reviews or media attention is that readers’ expectations are heightened. That was certainly the case for me going into Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. In fact there’s a glowing quote by Stephen King on the front cover and I’ve seen him praise it elsewhere.

Of course one of his novellas, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, features prominently in this book, but I don’t think he’d be that easily cajoled.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana

Monday, April 5, 2021 Permalink

The Hiding Place is the third novel I’ve read by Jenny Quintana. Looking at my ratings and reviews, my appreciation of her books is pretty consistent. I enjoy them and usually read them in a sitting.

I notice I’ve commented before on the pacing or found their conclusions unsatisfying however, and it was the same here.

It was only when I was in bed after I’d finished reading, that certain factors played on my mind. If you’ve read the book you might also have wondered about Connie’s luggage including the letter from her lover. Why did Quintana make the current tenant of flat one so elusive and felt like an unfollowed thread? And why did Marina try to talk to everyone but Mrs Hyde?

Of course the fact I was pondering it hours after closing the book is probably also a good thing.

three-half-stars

Book review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Sunday, March 28, 2021 Permalink

Every Vow You Break is the fifth book I’ve read by US author Peter Swanson and ever since his debut, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, he’s offered readers something a little different. A little off-centre.

His latest is no different. In fact he’s written it in a way that the introduction misleads readers completely. I wasn’t quite sure who I should be trusting or believing. In some ways, he offers us an anti-hero who ends up being a bad guy. Like Clark Kent becoming The Joker. Or something.

three-half-stars

Book review: Win by Harlan Coben

Friday, March 26, 2021 Permalink

I’ve mentioned before I was a latecomer to Harlan Coben’s work. I’m not sure why that was, but I’ve certainly enjoyed his most recent books, many of which have been standalone novels. It means I’m not really familiar with his popular protagonist Myron Bolitar, though I loved my brief interlude with his nephew Mickey in Found, published in 2014.

I’m assuming our lead in Coben’s latest novel, Win, was introduced in the Myron Bolitar series and as this is labelled Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1, I’m figuring it’s a spinoff.

And that excites me because I really loved this book. I adored Win. I adored Coben’s conversational style of writing. It felt like he was writing in second person, as if Win was telling ‘us’ his story. It was engaging and funny and Win, as a narrator, is unabashedly arrogant and elitist. If the plot had been a little less coincidental / contrived this might have been a five star read for me, but instead Mr Coben will have to settle for 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Book review: A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

Sunday, March 14, 2021 Permalink

I read A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion in a sitting and certainly enjoyed it. I am however, unsure how to describe it. I’m not a big ‘labeller’ of books. Or anything really. So I don’t mind that I find it hard to decide on this book’s ‘genre’, but I suspect I’m even going to struggle to explain what this novel is about.

The events of the book’s opening are—in many ways—the start of everything that comes after, but it feels as if the genesis of this story comes long before that. Mannion gives us glimpses into the Gallagher family’s history but I felt like something was missing. That a piece of the puzzle left unsaid or unexplained meant I entered the story too late and was playing catch-up.

three-half-stars

Book review: Other People’s Houses by by Kelli Hawkins

Saturday, March 6, 2021 Permalink

Other People’s Houses by by Kelli Hawkins is an intriguing and bittersweet tale of loss, grief and obsession. It could be akin to breakdown porn as readers get a front-row seat to the disintegration of someone’s mental health. However Hawkins handles lead character Kate with respect and sensitivity. This book is being compared to Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train and I suspect it’s due to the similarities between Kate and TGOTT’s Rachel. Not only are both heavy drinkers, but they indulge in risky and obsessive behaviour… even though they know better. Both authors however, treat their leads sympathetically.

four-stars

Book review: The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Sunday, February 28, 2021 Permalink

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson has described by many as featuring a murderer to rival everyone’s favourite 1990s serial killer and general-bad-guy Hannibal Lecter.

“Oh, so it’ll be gruesome,” I thought and prepared myself. I don’t like (read or watch ) horror and was worried it might border on that genre, but it was fine. Grisly on occasions and Matheson isn’t shy about going into detail about severed body parts and the like, but I’m not very visual so it wasn’t something that would give me nightmares.

four-stars

Book review: The Dare by Lesley Kara

Thursday, February 25, 2021 Permalink

I haven’t read Lesley Kara’s well-received 2018 release, The Rumour but I did enjoy Who Did You Tell, published in early 2020. Now I’ve read her latest book it’s obvious she’s drawn to themes reflecting hidden pasts and long-buried secrets.

The Dare is a twisty read that lures readers into a false sense of complacency before throwing our trust back in our faces. It has us questioning how well we (actually) know some of the lead characters.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor

Thursday, February 18, 2021 Permalink

They were a few weeks apart but it bodes well for 2021 that I read two books that I’m rating an easy 4.5 stars – a very rare honour in my world. The first was Linwood Barclay’s new release Find You First and the second, The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor.

This is the third book I’ve read by Tudor but I don’t think it’d appeared in any new release catalogues that I recall so I sent a query after seeing her talk about the book on Twitter. I’d missed her 2020 release, The Other People, but heard great things about it. And thank god I chased for a copy because I freakin’ loved this book. There’s a fabulous twist early and they really don’t stop coming.

four-half-stars