• Book review: The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 Permalink

    The Bluffs is the debut novel by Kyle Perry and a lot of reviewers I know have loved this book. So… my thoughts deviate a little from the norm.

    Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the book. I read it in a sitting and (eventually) turned the pages quickly, keen to learn more.

    But it took me a while to get to that point. In fact I almost put it aside (to read later) a few times in the first few chapters.

    The structure confused me as did the obvious reference to Picnic at Hanging Rock. I adored Joan Lindsay’s novel but HATED the posthumous final chapter that leapt into the supernatural. So, talk of portals and other realms here almost had me running for the… (ahem) bluffs.

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    three-half-stars
  • Book review: The Patient by Jasper DeWitt

    Tuesday, July 7, 2020 Permalink

    It’s been a while between books set in psychiatric facilities. There seemed to be a spate of them for a while. Books about current or former ‘institutions’ featuring some of horrific practices of the past and those remaining today (well, at least in the more sordid settings popping up in crime fiction and thrillers).

    The Patient by Jasper DeWitt is written as if a first-hand account (via online forum) by a Ivy League graduate who—for various reasons—accepts a posting at an old and obscure mental health facility in Connecticut.

    Our lead Parker uses initials and pseudonyms to talk about a patient and colleagues he comes across at the facility. He’s arrogant and he’s open about—what he believes to be—his superior intelligence and insight. It could make him unlikeable but he also acknowledges this arrogance and is honest in revealing his misjudgements and failings.

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    three-stars
  • Book review: Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham

    Sunday, July 5, 2020 Permalink

    I realise I harp on about the fact I don’t read historical fiction. I occasionally make exceptions for books written in dual timelines (the then and now), but every so often I seem to accidentally read historical fiction and don’t hate it. In fact I quite enjoy it.

    So, although mention of ‘the war’ (I or II) has me heading for the hills this is now the THIRD of Caroline Beecham’s novels I’ve read that’s been set during wartime and each time she has inexplicably lured me in with all sorts of interesting information I didn’t realise I enjoyed learning.

    I’ve previously commented on her work being similar to that of Natasha Lester, in that there’s something ‘meaty’ (deep or educational) in her narratives. Beecham’s latest, Finding Eadie, brings readers yet more fascinating fodder about life during wartime. This time it’s centred around publishing, books and reading – which is akin to catnip for me. Though there’s also some insight into the less-palatable subject of ‘baby farming’ – illegal adoption / trafficking of babies.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

    Friday, July 3, 2020 Permalink

    The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton, released in 2018, came as a bit of surprise and I enjoyed it far more than I expected. I comment in that review that it offered something a bit new. Something fresh.

    Hamilton’s new novel, The Last Wife is similarly twisty. Again she gives us an unreliable narrator (who we grow to like, or at least understand), a support cast who have their own secrets and adds in a few twists when we think we’re on the home stretch.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter

    Wednesday, July 1, 2020 Permalink

    The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter is the tenth in the series featuring Will Trent, and though I’d say I’m a Slaughter devotee I somehow missed the last one or two.

    Interestingly, for long term fans… this could almost be badged as a Grant County book as Jeffrey Tolliver, the (former) Chief of Grant County Police and headliner of that series (along with Sara Linton) features prominently. Which could be perplexing if you’ve read all of those books.

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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: The Half Sister by Sandie Jones

    Wednesday, June 24, 2020 Permalink

    I’ve read a few twisty books lately and The Half Sister by Sandie Jones is yet another. It’s probably a little (well, very) deceiving as several times I thought I knew what was happening. In fact, I often felt a sense of frustration as it felt far too obvious and predictable.

    But of course I was wrong on those occasions and Jones takes readers in another direction entirely.

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    four-stars
  • Male or female lead characters. Do you care?

    Monday, June 22, 2020 Permalink

    I just reviewed a book in which I commented that I’d assumed the lead character—in whose head we’d been placed—was female. Their name was non-specific and so when they were addressed by their full name I was astounded. “Oh, I’m a boy!” I thought in a completely guileless way.

    But it gave me pause. I pondered. Why did I assume ‘Jamie’ was female? Because the author was female? Because I’m female? Because I read so many books featuring a female protagonist?

    I wasn’t sure.

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  • Book review: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

    Monday, June 22, 2020 Permalink

    The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish is the type of book that throws in an extra twist, just as you think you have things worked out.

    In many ways it felt as if the narrative was ‘finished’ a number of times before it was. I kept looking at how many more pages remained wondering how on earth Candlish would eke the book out further. But… it’s because she takes the story in several directions we don’t expect… though wonder later how we didn’t predict their occurrence.

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    four-stars