Review: The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder

May 3, 2018 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Mystery

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Colour of Bee Larkham’s MurderThe Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris
Published by HarperCollins on 3rd May 2018
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone what you did to Bee Larkham…

Jasper is not ordinary. In fact, he would say he is extraordinary…

Synaesthesia paints the sounds of his world in a kaleidoscope of colours that no one else can see. But on Friday, he discovered a new colour – the colour of murder.

He’s sure something has happened to his neighbour, Bee Larkham, but no-one else seems to be taking it as seriously as they should be. The knife and the screams are all mixed up in his head and he’s scared that he can’t quite remember anything clearly.

But where is Bee? Why hasn’t she come home yet? Jasper must uncover the truth about that night – including his own role in what happened…

Thirteen-year-old Jasper lives with his ex-Royal Marine father. His mother died several years ago and he misses her. Jasper has synaesthesia. Rather than hearing sounds, Jasper sees them as colour. Every sound has its own colour, every voice its own colour palette. His mother understood this – she had synaesthesia too.

Jasper also experiences prosopagnosia, meaning that he can’t recognise faces, even his father’s. He has developed techniques to help him, the colour of people’s voices, the clothes they wear, accessories they have etc. His Dad helps him by wearing his “uniform” – certain colours that Jasper recognises, as well as calling him “son” and speaking in his ochre tone.

Jasper loves art and records the colours of the world in his paintings. Most people can’t appreciate them, but for Jasper they tell the stories of his life.

When a new neighbour, Bee Larkham, comes to the street he befriends her (her voice is sky blue, not quite the cobalt blue of his mother’s) and becomes obsessed with the parakeets in her garden, and the colours they make in his world.

When Jasper becomes convinced that Bee Larkham has been murdered, he becomes increasingly frustrated that people aren’t taking him seriously.

Told from Jasper’s perspective, we get a fascinating look into how he perceives the world. He doesn’t like change, sticks to routine, takes things literally and, consequently, misunderstands those around him. While not actually saying that Jasper is autistic, it is implied in the pages of this book.

We are taken along with Jasper as he tries to piece together what happened to Bee Larkham, all the while being desperate to protect his new friends, the parakeets.

This is an interesting read, that I certainly found educational. Personally, I wasn’t overly familiar with the conditions in this book prior to reading, so it opened my eyes.

I enjoyed the writing and the description of colours that define Jasper’s world. Also, the way we see the truth behind much of Jasper’s naive observations.

I did find it somewhat repetitive at times, but I guess that’s the point – to capture Jasper’s character.

Although this book is told from the eyes of a teenager, and is being likened by many to The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, I feel it’s important to note that this isn’t a book for children. There are some issues in it that aren’t suitable for a younger audience.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel. I really liked Jasper and enjoyed seeing the world from his perspective, all the while trying to uncover some mysteries for myself.

three-half-stars

Review: Whistle In The Dark

May 1, 2018 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Mystery

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Whistle In The DarkWhistle In The Dark by Emma Healey
Published by Viking on 3rd May 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

Jen Maddox has just been reunited with her 15-year-old daughter, Lana, following Lana’s four-day-long disappearance.

Jen and Lana had gone on a mother-daughter painting holiday when Lana went missing – sparking a huge search and nationwide missing persons campaign. Now that Lana’s back, she won’t tell anyone what happened to her. Seeing her daughter cut, battered and bruised, Jen fears for what Lana has been through. She, husband Hugh, and elder daughter Meg are also concerned for Lana’s mental health – how will this ordeal have impacted upon Lana’s depression?

I thoroughly enjoyed Emma Healey’s debut Elizabeth Is Missing (you can find my review here), so I was so excited to see Whistle In The Dark appear on NetGalley and instantly requested it. The thing is though, when you’ve loved an author’s first book, do you have unfairly high expectations for the next? I fear that was the case with this novel. I enjoyed it but I couldn’t help but compare it.

The mystery surrounding Lana’s disappearance and her unwillingness to share her story is what spurred on my reading with this book. I really did want to learn what had happened to Lana and why she wouldn’t discuss it.

I like the way the story was told from Jen’s perspective – a mother who has long tried to the best for her child, to help her through her mental health difficulties and who finds herself faced with a seemingly changed daughter, with an unknown trauma.

With Jen as narrator, we see the characters through her eyes. Her elder daughter, so together and unlike her mother, her husband who, while supportive, does seem to think she overreacts, and Lana whom she can’t get close to – can’t even tell if she likes her.

I guess I found this book to be overall a bit flat. I kept reading, kept waiting for all to unravel and I was left feeling that I wanted a bit more from this book. I really enjoy Healey’s writing, but as I said at the start, I fear I went into reading this with unfair expectations, and that probably left me feeling the way I did.

I must add though that, like Elizabeth is Missing, this book addresses some important subjects and I’m sure it will help to raise awareness.

three-stars

Blog Tour & Review: Force of Nature

February 10, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour & Review: Force of NatureForce of Nature by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #2
Published by Little Brown UK on 1st February 2018
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?

I’m delighted to be one of a collection of bloggers on today’s stop on the #ForceofNature blog tour!

I’ve been very excited to read Jane Harper’s new novel, the second in her Aaron Falk series. After loving her debut, The Dry, last year and seeing it do so well, I couldn’t wait to read Force of Nature.

I was not disappointed. Harper has an incredible ability to put you right there in the story – it’s something that stood out to me in The Dry and is definitely the case in her latest Aaron Falk instalment.

We rejoin Falk a few months after the happenings of The Dry, back in Melbourne working on a case with a new partner, Carmen. Together they are collecting evidence of money laundering against the firm Bailey Tennants.

Their contact in the company, Alice Russell, has been working secretly to provide them with evidence. However, with the handover of the final key documents looming, Alice has gone missing on a Bailey Tennants corporate retreat.

The setting for most of this novel is the Giralang Ranges. This is where the team building retreat takes place – where two groups all male and all female set out to trek the bush, spending three nights in the great outdoors. However, when the female team arrive at the meeting point late and are missing their teammate Alice, a massive search and investigation begins.

Falk and Carmen find themselves in the ranges, aiding the local police and trying to find Alice. The area has a chilling history of its own, which adds to the fears of the team.

Harper transported me to the wet, winter, Bushlands of the Giralang Ranges. Her writing is so atmospheric, I’ve rarely felt so engaged with the setting of a novel. I swear, I was lying in my bed with the electric blanket on, but I felt the dampness of the bush, the soggy waterproofs and wet sleeping bag.

As for the story itself, I couldn’t stop reading! Harper switched between chapters with Falk as he tries to find Alice, and chapters with the female team and the story of their retreat. I found this to work really well, as we slowly uncover the truth.

Once again, I like Falk. He’s easy to relate to, flawed and all the more likeable for it. I did enjoy his partnership with Carmen, I thought it worked well and I hope we’ll see them work together again.  To my knowledge, there’s no mention of a third book yet but surely we’ll be treated to more of Aaron Falk in the near future.

This novel is so immersive, well written and hard to put down. I’ve no doubt that Force of Nature is going to prove every bit as successful as The Dry.

 

FYI – I’ve just noticed that Waterstones have signed copies available! Find them here (not an affiliate link).

five-stars

Review: All The Wicked Girls

October 16, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All The Wicked GirlsAll The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

When Summer Ryan goes missing in Grace, Alabama, it is feared that she is another Briar Girl. Girls have been going missing and the Police Dept is yet to uncover the truth of their disappearances.

So Summer’s twin sister Raine takes it upon herself to find her sister, and enlists the help of two local boys Noah and Purv. Noah’s late father was a police officer and Noah wants to emulate him and his heroism. While Summer and Raine may be twins they are very different. Summer is academic and musical, Raine hangs out with guys getting drunk. As different as they may be they love each other fiercely and Raine will do whatever it takes to find her twin.

This novel is packed full of characters and somehow in just 339 pages we get an insight into their histories. That in itself is impressive. I’ll admit being overwhelmed at first by the number of names; my foggy brain couldn’t keep up. But slowly we uncover more about them all and the citizens of Grace, Alabama, seem a lot more real, more than a blend of names.

As we follow Noah, Purv and Raine while they try to find Summer (throwing themselves into harm’s way in the process), we are also treated to chapters from Summer. Through these chapters we learn more about the missing girl, much more.

Then, of course, there are the other missing girls, the Briar Girls – will they ever solve the mystery? Perhaps with Noah and co. on the case.

I don’t want to give you much more information for fear of spoiling the evolution of this story. What I will say is that this is not only a mystery novel but a look into a small community where that person next door you might look to have it all, may actually have their own hidden struggles and secrets.

four-stars

Blog Tour: If We Were Villains

June 15, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: If We Were VillainsIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Titan on 13th June 2017
Genres: thriller, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else's story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the If We Were Villains blog tour. If you’ve missed the other stops on the tour so far you can find them all at the bottom of this post.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is an elite art school that is home to Oliver and his six friends; all of whom are in their fourth and final year as theatre students and scholars of Shakespeare. They live, study, act and socialise with one another – their own Shakespeare-loving family.

When we meet Oliver it’s ten years later and he’s just getting out of prison where he has served time for the murder of one of these close friends. He has finally agreed to tell the lead detective the whole, true story.

The novel is structured through Acts and Scenes which tell the story of life at the school, with Preludes that focus on the now and Oliver’s release from prison. I loved this structure, in a book filled with drama, theatrics and plays it fits the theme perfectly.

Now, I studied Shakespeare in school but that was quite some time ago – and even then I’m familiar with only a few of his plays. I was slightly concerned that my ignorance might mean that I wouldn’t enjoy this novel; however I actually enjoyed it very much. I would say though that those more acquainted with Shakespeare or even with theatre as a whole would no doubt enjoy it more.

Our seven characters (I was rather confused at first with all of the names, but I soon caught on) are actors; throughout the year they adopt Shakespearean roles for a variety of plays. Indeed they even converse among one another in quotes at times. However, as the school year progresses it seems that many of the seven are struggling to leave their Shakespearean roles behind, and the line between fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

This is not your typical thriller. Yes, it’s thrilling and gripping but it’s far more than that. Rio weaves her story in conjunction with Shakespearean verse. Indeed she often echoes her characters’ mindsets and actions though their study of The Bard. At first, I’ll admit I struggled a little with this style, but it’s executed so well that I soon became accustomed to the interspersions of verse.

Rio not only expertly combines Shakespeare into her narrative, but also displays her own beautiful writing.

This is quite a rollercoaster read – love, betrayal, envy, passion, friendships, this book has it all – just like the Shakespearean works it echoes.

If We Were Villains Blog Tour

three-half-stars