• 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: Escape to Curlew Cottage by Joanne Tracey

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Permalink

    I’m always nervous when I read a book by someone I know. Let alone someone I see as a friend. Thankfully every time I read one of Joanne Tracey’s books I come away a little agog – that someone I know could create something like this. Something magical. Something that makes me care. And something that makes me cry.

    Escape to Curlew Cottage is loosely linked to Wish You Were Here, which I read in 2016. I spent much of last year in my self-absorbed little bubble so missed two books Tracey released in 2020, but her warm style of writing, her development of very real and likeable characters and yarn-spinning ability was exactly as I remembered. Although I didn’t remember that until I started reading…. if you know what I mean.

    four-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: Love Objects by Emily Maguire

    Saturday, April 3, 2021 Permalink

    Somehow I missed Emily Maguire’s popular and critically acclaimed An Isolated Incident so I was excited to receive her latest novel, Love Objects, for review. I realised as soon as I started reading that I wasn’t familiar with her writing. Her sentences are long, almost verbose*. And perhaps because of this, her prose is lyrical and quite lovely.

    Very weirdly it was the second book I’d read about a hoarder in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure if the focus on minimalism has shone the light on its polar opposite or whether hoarder reality TV shows have inspired authors.

    four-stars
  • Book review: A Gambling Man by David Baldacci

    Friday, April 2, 2021 Permalink

    I wasn’t a fan of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series* but have loved almost everything he’s published since. Indeed, his books take up quite a bit of real estate on my bookshelves. I particularly love his Amos Decker and Atlee Pine series but somehow I missed the first in his new historical crime fiction series featuring ex-con Aloysius Archer.

    And I enjoyed this so much I’m going to be hunting down its predecessor, One Good Deed.

    four-stars
  • Book review: Something to Hide by Fleur McDonald

    Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Permalink

    Each time I review one of Fleur McDonald’s books featuring Detective Dave Burrows I make some quip about the fact there are two. Series that is. Not Dave Burrowses.

    McDonald kicked off the series with a middle-aged Dave, but later took us back in time to the late 1990s and early 2000s to a young (Detective) Dave who was hoping to join the Stock Squad.

    I adore both series and am intrigued how the Dave we meet in the past becomes the Dave we meet in the present.

    four-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