Reviews Published

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Blue Moon - Lee Child

Loved it.

I've read the reviews that agree with me, and I've read those that don't. The former affirmed my opinion. The latter didn't budge it.

This book, Jack Reacher 24, is pure escapism. I want to be Reacher, and at the same time I want to be friends with him. Yeah, probably more than friends. And I definitely want to give him a list of bad people to visit.

It reads fast, too fast. That's the worst thing that I can say about it.

It's a random universe, but once in a blue moon things turn out just right.
In a nameless city, two rival criminal gangs are competing for control. But they hadn’t counted on Jack Reacher arriving on their patch.
Reacher is trained to notice things.
He’s on a Greyhound bus, watching an elderly man sleeping in his seat, with a fat envelope of cash hanging out of his pocket. Another passenger is watching too ... hoping to get rich quick.
As the mugger makes his move, Reacher steps in.
The old man is grateful, yet he turns down Reacher’s offer to help him home. He’s vulnerable, scared, and clearly in big, big trouble.
What hold could the gangs have on the old guy? Will Reacher be in time to stop bad things happening?
The odds are better with Reacher involved. That's for damn sure.

The Two Lives of Louis and Louise

"The Two Lives of Louis and Louise" (UK) or just "Louis and Louise" (USA) by Julie Cohen is a masterpiece of prose and pacing. You will fall in love with the characters, the plot twists and even the toxic setting.

Louis and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. One was born female, and one male.
They have the same best friends, the same red hair, the same dream of being a writer, the same excellent whistle. They both suffer one catastrophic night, with life-changing consequences.
Thirteen years later, they are both coming home . . .

Friday, October 18, 2019

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

I almost didn't read this. My rule is to stay away from books and movies that have the potential to break my heart, and this book makes no secret of the fact that it's going to rip your heart out of your chest and shatter it into tiny shards.

I'm glad I read it.

That it's loosely based on the author's own experience almost undid me.

I'm glad I read it.

You will be, too.

How to Be Perfect by Holly Wainwright

It would be a mistake to dismiss "How to be perfect" as chick lit for moms. I mean, yeah, it is that, sure, but it's so, so much more.

This book makes you think about all the ways our way of life, advertising and society encourage us to part with money: face creams, yoga clothes, food supplements, "miracle" ingredients, perfect houses, perfect furniture, health retreats... and daycare for our children so that we can go back to work in order to afford it all.

This book gives you permission to parent your way: hippy, natural, bottle and formula, electronics, whatever works best, or whatever works least badly.

This books shows you that life is far from perfect, and that it's still ok, even when your teenage daughter is naked online.

(BTW, it's a sequel, but I read it as a stand-alone.)

Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Marsh King's Daughter

Title: The March King's Daughter
Author: Karen Dionne
Genre: Thriller (moderate)
Atmosphere: The setting and mood are somewhat like "The Great Alone"
Uplifting: Yes
Themes: family love, nature, sustainability

This book will make you wonder about many issues. Is it possible to love the baby of your kidnapper? How much does the father need to screw up before you stop being on his side? Children are resilient - why do we lose that as we grow up? How minimalist can you go when you live in a cabin cut off from civilisation?

Beautifully written. You'll be glad you've read it.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Eleanor & Park

"Eleanor and Park" is a Rainbow Rowell YA novel. Except there is nothing YA or angst-y about the problems the protagonists grapple with.

Dysfunctional families? Check.
Functional families? You bet.
Body image issues, bullies, even gender ambiguity - it's all there.

A beautiful read that ends way too soon.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

"Need to Know" by Karen Cleveland is a domestic suspense novel mixed with a spy story. It's a page-turner with a likeable heroine, though personally I would have preferred her stronger and smarter.

Vivian Miller. High-powered CIA analyst, happily married to a man she adores, mother of four beautiful children. Until the moment she makes a shocking discovery that makes her question everything she believes.
She thought she knew her husband inside and out. But now she wonders if it was all a lie. How far will she go to learn the truth?  And does she really . . . 

Their Little Secret (Tom Thorne Novels Book 16)

"Their Little Secret" is Mark Billingham's 16th Tom Thorne Novel. What I like about this series is the character development: the Tom we meet in "Sleepyhead" is not the same Tom as the one in "Good as Dead", and he's different (consistently so) from the one in "Their Little Secret". Nicola Tanner is also evolving, healing in one sense but still broken in another. All good.

The plot features interesting characters (a suburban mum with a secret, a conman), and the book ends before this reader got to know them well enough for her liking. Still, it's the usual Billingham page-turner. And Tom's a treat, as always.

Run Away - review

"Run Away" by Harlan Coben is your perfect suburban thriller / domestic suspense novel. Family in trouble - check. Modern dilemma - check. Readers asking themselves what they would do and thanking their lucky stars it's only hypothetical - check, check, check.

Written in the classic Coben style, with a cameo appearance from a regular character (sadly, not Win this time).

From the blurb:
You've lost your daughter.

She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she's not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don't stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs. 

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.Age Range:Adult.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Farm - Joanne Ramos

A clever premise with a story line that will make you turn the pages, this book is a pleasure to read. It will fill your heart with love and empathy, it'll uplift your mood and leave you with food for thought: is charity always selfless? or can it be a win-win for the one giving as well as the one receiving?

Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules…

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks - a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry. There, women get the very best of everything: organic meals, fitness trainers, daily massages and big money. Provided they dedicate themselves to producing the perfect baby. For someone else. 

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

"Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna" is an extremely readable book that digs into deep issues such as what success looks like versus what it actually is, domestic violence, motherhood in all its shapes and forms.

I liked that the characters were women of all ages, from twenty to seventy: the breadth provided a variety of perspectives and voices and points of view.

A fast moving plot twisted and turned to a satisfying conclusion.

Why would four women admit to committing the same murder?
Four different women offer four very different confessions to the death of a man found in the midst of a rehearsal dinner at an luxurious resort, each insisting they acted alone. Their stories are contradicting and confusing, posing a conundrum for the detective who must untangle their secrets.
Truth and friendship surface in surprising ways, but who is the guiltiest of them all and what really happened on that rooftop?

Friday, April 12, 2019

29 Seconds - TM Logan

"29 Seconds" by TM Logan is an important book. Within the framework of a psychological suburban thriller, the author examines the - unfortunately - still very current issues of sexual harassment at work and glass ceilings. 

The question that might stay with the reader long after they put down the novel: should you fight criminal behaviour by resorting to criminal actions?

When Sarah Haywood rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her instinctive act of bravery puts her in the debt of a powerful and dangerous man, and he has other ideas. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid - in the only way he knows how. He offers Sarah a way to solve an impossible situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that could turn her life around and make all her problems disappear. No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out. All it takes is a 29-second phone call ... Because everyone has a name to give. Don't they?

Monday, April 08, 2019

Never Tell - Lisa Gardner

"Never Tell" by Lisa Gardner is the 10th book in the D.D. Warren series. As usual, it explores the themes of survivors of crime, motherhood, independent women - all within the framework of a thriller.

As usual, a well-paced read with 3D characters. It was good to see Flora Dane return to the pages and to have her story fleshed out. I look forward to that thread continuing in future books.

The blurb:
A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman--Evie Carter--from a case many years back. Evie's father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim--a hostage--and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad's murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson is a thriller, literary fiction and women's contemporary fiction all at once. Take the best characteristics of those genres, add the author's uniquely beautiful voice, mix in her beautifully unique protagonists, a role-model heroine (with a very imperfect past), a high-adrenaline plot and deep issues, and there you have it. A book that's shaping up to be the best one I've read in the last 12 months.

Joshilyn Jackson's writing voice is so ensnaring, that it almost doesn't matter what she chooses to write about: adoption, racial issues, quilting, mysterious boxes in the attic or, as is the case with Never Have I Ever, a small town mothers' book club and the guilty secrets its members hide.

The premise is straight-forward: what if you had a secret so big that exposing it would risk losing everything, from your children through your husband to your best friend? What if someone blackmailed you?

I know what you think. You expect the next line to be: How far would you go to silence them? Right? And yet, that's not the point of the book at all.

Never Have I Ever is about families, dysfunctional parents and good stepmoms. It's about friendships and eating disorders and first love. It's about scuba diving and forgiveness.

And yes, it's also about playing the game. The action moves at a truly thriller-like pace, with many unexpected-yet-in-hind-sight-totally-logical twists.

You will fall in love with the characters. You will wish the book were a lot longer. And if this is your first Joshilyn Jackson, you will be reaching for another one. Guaranteed.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

Eight Lives by Susan Hurley

Wow, what a book! Clever yet immensely accessible, written in a fresh voice (or is it voices?) of very diverse characters - no matter whose head you're in, you like that character, even if it's only for the duration of their narrative. A psychological thriller, a why-dunnit, call it what you will, but be sure to read it. Un.Put.Down.Able.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The Opposite of Everybody

It's no secret that I love Joshilyn Jackson and her books. I love her and her books so much that I waited all this time (almost two years) to read "The opposite of Everyone".

The reason? Because my copy is sighed by the author, personalised for me, one of the earliest fans. And I didn't want to risk the book getting splattered on during breakfast or soaked in the bath or wear out in my briefcase.

Okay, this sounds creepy. It's not. I think.

So eventually I bought an Audible version and had the book read to me while I ate, drove, chopped, bathed and bleached. The author reads her books herself, and she does a brilliant job of it. I prefer reading with my eyes, not with my ears, but having the author read to you adds a dimension of special.

Right, This is also verging on creepy.

So. The book. Darker than most. Equally compelling. A strong unique heroine with a lovable semi-love interest. A great story. Beautifully told. You will be mesmerised.