• 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: Strangers by CL Taylor

    Sunday, April 5, 2020 Permalink

    I read Cally (CL) Taylor’s Sleep last year and enjoyed the Agatha Christie-esque whodunnit.

    In that book Taylor offered us several narrators and she does the same in her newest release, Strangers.

    I loved the way Taylor introduces each of the three lead characters as we slowly and steadily build a relationship with each. She offers up a circular plot structure; so we start at (or near) the end before going back in time as the story unfolds from the viewpoints of the three leads in the previous week.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: The Deceptions by Suzanne Leal

    Friday, April 3, 2020 Permalink

    I read Suzanne Leal’s The Teacher’s Secret when it was released in 2016. I enjoyed the novel and was particularly interested in the way Leal considered society (in general) via the microcosm of a small town.

    Her latest release ponders similar societal issues, though subtly. It’s one that unfolds in two timeframes, during World War II (and immediate aftermath) and the present. Well, 2010 which apparently is a decade ago though doesn’t feel like it.

    The thing I like most about Leal’s work and this book in particular, is that she also challenges readers, taking us to dark places and forcing us to consider complex issues. She doesn’t spoon-feed us life lessons or shove ethical and political / societal / cultural dilemmas of today down our throats, but they’re evident nonetheless and impossible not to ponder – perhaps long after we finish reading.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

    Tuesday, March 31, 2020 Permalink

    All of Natasha Lester’s novels have featured ground-breaking women. Those ahead of their time – battling society’s norms and often weighed down by the expectations of those they love.

    Her books I’ve enjoyed most have probably featured women with more virtuous pursuits (and I don’t mean to imply beauty products/make-up or designing fashion aren’t lofty life goals). Her first book, A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald featured a woman battling to get into medical school in the early 1920s; her last, The French Photographer a female war photographer.

    Her books unfold in multiple timeframes, usually the past and present(ish). Her latest, The Paris Secret is no different and is probably my favourite since her first. Not only did I enjoy the characters and their stories, but Lester’s writing is quite exquisite.

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    four-half-stars
  • Book review: Gathering Dark by Candice Fox

    Monday, March 30, 2020 Permalink

    I’m always sad when Candice Fox ends a series, but I should know I don’t need to wallow for long as she’s always back with the next big thing. I wasn’t entirely ready for her Crimson Lake series to be over (and perhaps it isn’t?!) but I was able to take solace in the fact she was working on something new. I note this isn’t officially called number 1 (#1) but I’m crossing several limbs it is as I really liked the characters she introduces here.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: Red Dirt Country by Fleur McDonald

    Sunday, March 29, 2020 Permalink

    I LOVE Fleur McDonald’s Dave Burrows series’. And yes, that apostrophe is meant to be there—I think—cos there are two of them. In case you’ve been living under a rock, McDonald is basically releasing books in two timeframes as if we’re in some weird Sliding Doors-like timewarp thingy.

    In addition to an interrelated series set in the present, which features Burrows though he’s not always the headline act, McDonald takes us back in time a couple of decades (kicking off in the late 1990s) to Burrows’ early years as a cop.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: Walk the Wire by David Baldacci

    Saturday, March 28, 2020 Permalink

    I love Amos Decker. Aka the Memory Man. Walk the Wire is his 6th outing and he and his work partner, Alex Jamison contemplate here how far he’s come socially since they met.

    Decades earlier—after almost dying—Decker developed hyperthymesia. Not only is he unable to forget anything but it kinda destroyed his social skills. The remainder of his will to live / ability to feel joy disappeared after the murder of his family.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer

    Friday, March 27, 2020 Permalink

    I very much enjoyed Cassie Hamer’s debut novel, After The Party. I followed her via Twitter before she was published so we’d sort of circled each other virtually for some time. She seemed like the sort of person I’d like IRL… if you know what I mean? You often get an idea of what someone might be like through their interactions with you and others even if you’ve not met them in person.

    And Hamer’s accessible, familiar and easy prose in After The Party only cemented that feeling for me.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: Sheerwater by Leah Swann

    Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Permalink

    I’d not read any of Leah Swann’s books when I picked up her new release Sheerwater, so wasn’t sure what to expect.

    But her writing is exquisite. Beautiful, elegant and lyrical. From the first page I was enchanted by the way she wound words together. Smitten.

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    four-stars