Book review: The Chamber by Will Dean

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 Permalink

Holy schmoly! What a ride this book was. I’m not usually a fan of ‘action’ oriented novels and tend to skim over fight scenes and the like, even when the author obviously knows their stuff. Having said that, in the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed TJ Newman’s heart-in-mouth novels involving plane-based drama. I know one or both are being translated onto the big or small screen and I can see why. The Chamber by Will Dean blew me away for similar reasons. It’s a literal pressure cooker of a novel – centred around a saturation diving crew – in a sardine can 100m below the ocean’s surface. Their work is dangerous enough but throw in some suspicious deaths and you’ve got an extraordinary locked-room mystery.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Instruments of Darkness by John Connolly

Sunday, April 28, 2024 Permalink

I started reading The Instruments of Darkness by John Connolly and had one thought: “OMFG!” His opening paragraph, his phrasing, his over-use of metaphors, whip-smart prose and witty narration… I was blown-away.

Very weirdly – I discovered that I have never read anything by Connolly in past (unless it was pre-2011 when I started tracking my reading in Goodreads). I mean, I’ve heard of Connolly obviously, and his Charlie Parker series but I’m agog that this was my first of his books. Which is probably why I had no idea that this series (or perhaps his work in general) has a supernatural undercurrent.

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four-stars

Book review: The Trivia Night by Ali Lowe

Friday, February 25, 2022 Permalink

I usually try to avoid books featuring warring parents (both the intra and extra-familial kind). As a non-parent myself, novels featuring yummy mummies or daddies or parents trying to outdo each other; those where the parenting skills of others are judged; and even discussions about the way children are parented make my eyes glaze over.

It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy these books but it means I’m less likely to engage with the characters, though I realise they’re excellent bookclub fodder for groups of school mums and the like. They are – of course – of more interest if they feature something dire… like a disappearance or a murder, which The Trivia Night by Ali Lowe does.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 Permalink

I’d completely misunderstood the blurb for The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean. I assumed it to be one of those kidnap victim sagas about someone abducted and held for many years (like Room and many books since). And it kinda is. But’s also about the far weightier and fraught topic of human trafficking, or at least its aftermath and its repercussions.

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four-stars

Book review: The Sight of You by Holly Miller

Friday, June 26, 2020 Permalink

The most important thing you need to know about The Sight of You by Holly Miller is that I bloody loved it. Like LOVE loved it. I randomly picked it off my overflow TBR pile (on the trolley in my bathroom) not entirely sure what I was in for. Although if I’m honest I was probably slightly worried by the mention of premonitions as I’m not a fan of the illogical in my reading.

But… oh my god, I was smitten from the get-go. By Miller’s writing. By her characters. I was in love. I note a quote from Beth O’Leary inside the book and think it’s reminiscent of her book (I also loved) The Flatshare, which offers readers a growing relationship from both a male and female perspective. This does the same and Miller’s written it in a way that Joel and Callie are funny, charismatic and likeable as individuals; so as a couple who perfectly complement the other, they’re addictive.

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five-stars

Book review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Sunday, May 3, 2020 Permalink

I don’t read short stories. And yes I know, it’s weird and makes no sense. However as I launched into Stephen King’s newest release If It Bleeds, I was reminded that much of his early work, that I loved, were (in fact) short stories.

The title’s namesake, If It Bleeds, is in fact possibly almost a novella and is a sequel to The Outsider. It’s complemented by three other shorter stories and I actually… preferred a couple of those as I’m not a huge fan of the fantasy / horror genre. Twisty yes, but I’m a lover of logic so I like trying to wrap my head around something mysterious or even mind-bending, rather than fantastical. If that makes sense.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 Permalink

I enjoyed The Roanoke Girls published in 2017 but Amy Engel’s latest release, The Familiar Dark, actually frog-leapt over several other books for a rather superficial reason. Its slimness.

Don’t get me wrong, the backcover blurb made it sound gripping, so I was keen to read it—but given everything that’s happening in the world—like many others, I’m struggling to maintain focus for extensive amounts of time. Large tomes have felt a little overwhelming. But I knew (again from the blurb) this would be a book I could read in a sitting. (And it was!)

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four-stars

Book review: Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah

Thursday, January 30, 2020 Permalink

What I really liked about this book by Sophie Hannah is that though the lead character Beth sees something completely impossible, she’s conscious of its improbability and considers alternatives despite being sure she’s not mistaken. And of course, given my logic-loving ways…. I also liked that Hannah steers clear of the fantastic and (eventually) the inexplicable as we unpick the mystery.

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four-stars

Book review: The Institute by Stephen King

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 Permalink

The first part of this book introduces us to one of our narrators and lead characters. Interestingly it doesn’t touch on ‘the institute’ at all. I’d read the backcover blurb and wondered what on earth disgraced-but-heroic cop Tim Jamieson had to do with gifted kids being kidnapped in Maine but Stephen King is such a masterful storyteller I didn’t really care. I was happy to read about Tim hitch-hiking to DuPray, South Carolina and the people he met along the way, as well as the way he settled into the local community on his arrival.

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four-half-stars