Review: Thirteen

June 10, 2018 in Book Reviews, Crime, Thriller

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: Thirteen Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
Series: Eddie Flynn #4
Published by Orion on 14th June 2018
Genres: Crime, thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars

The serial killer isn't on trial. He's on the jury.

Hollywood actor Robert Soloman stands accused of the brutal stabbings of his wife and her lover, but he is desperately pleading that he had nothing to do with it. This is the trial of the century, and the defence want Eddie Flynn on their team.

The biggest case Eddie has ever tried before, he decides to take it on despite the overwhelming evidence that Robert is guilty. As the trial starts, Eddie becomes sure of Robert's innocence, but there's something else he is even more sure of - that there is something sinister going on in the jury box.

Because of this, he is forced to ask: what if the killer isn't on the stand? What if he's on the jury?

The premise of Thirteen immediately caught my attention on NetGalley – the serial killer is not the one on trial, rather he is occupying a seat on the jury!

I had high hopes for this read and wow, it even surpassed my expectations.

Let me start by saying that this is actually the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series but you don’t have to have read the other three – I hadn’t and I loved it! Cavanagh makes his characters easily accessible to us, filling us in while, I imagine, refreshing the memories of long-term fans.

A Wee Summary

Hollywood actor Robert “Bobby” Solomon stands trial for the murder of his equally famous wife and their security guard. All the evidence points towards Bobby’s guilt, but Eddie Flynn finds himself believing in Bobby’s innocence and working his case.

All the while, Flynn is watched from the jury by Joshua Kane who has infiltrated the bench. With chapters told from both Flynn and Kane’s perspectives, we gain a fascinating insight into the minds of the defense lawyer and a highly intelligent killer.

My Thoughts

Cavanagh’s writing is brilliant. He provides us with just enough information that we find our own theories evolving, feeling compelled to read on.

I really liked the character of Flynn, an ex-con-man turned into a defense attorney. I knew I’d love him from the outset, with his tricks in courts piquing my interest.

The whole concept of the trial itself was fascinating to me. The evolving case kept me guessing, with Flynn and Kane head to head.

I don’t think there’s higher praise to give this book than to tell you that the minute I finished it, I downloaded Cavanagh’s first book in the series straight to my Kindle (it’s currently 99p). I’m so excited to learn more about Flynn.

I could gush all day about this book but I’m so wary of any spoilers. It really is an altogether fantastic read. It almost felt like a movie playing out in my mind. Read it!

five-stars

Blog Tour: The Lido

April 19, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Contemporary

Every now and then I want to read something that is going to fill my heart, and The Lido most certainly did that. So I’m delighted to be today’s stop on The Lido blog tour – and it’s PUBLICATION DAY! So you can now get your hands on this heartwarming novel.

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: The Lido The Lido by Libby Page
Published by Orion on 19th April 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

My Summary

When the local council threaten to sell the lido in Brixton to a developer, Rosemary is devastated. She has spent over 80 years of her life swimming in that pool. It’s where she got to know her husband, where they spent many hours together, and where she went for solace after he died two years earlier.

Rosemary won’t let the lido go without a fight and so starts distributing leaflets which grab the attention of the local paper who send one of their journalists, Kate, to meet with the 86-year-old.

Kate is 26 and having moved to London, finds that her life there isn’t what she expected. She lives with strangers and faces a constant battle with panic and anxiety. Her job at the newspaper has been dull until she is given the Brockwell Lido story and meets Rosemary.

The two strike up a friendship and Kate finds that the lido is really as special as Rosemary says. Together they take up the fight to save the pool, and in doing so save one another.

My Thoughts

I love stories of friendships across generations, so I really had high hopes for this book and I’m so pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I loved the characters of both Rosemary and Kate. While we join them in their fight to save the lido, we also go back in time with Rosemary and follow the story of her life with her husband George. I really appreciated the way this dual storytelling worked, eventually merging to the current timeline.

This novel looks at the changing world we live in, where cornerstones of local communities are being lost and replaced by new, often inaccessible to most, accommodations and facilities.  I liked the way that we are introduced to the community along with Kate. We uncover the wonders of the lido as she does, and meet the community that she has until now been oblivious to, along with her.

There’s so much to like in this story and it is wonderfully told. It’s the kind of book that feels like a hug. It’s so easy to read and such a joy to read. It’s an uplifting tale and is perfect for filling your heart with warmth.

My Rosemary!

As part of the tour I’ve been asking who my Rosemary is. I am lucky to have had many wonderful relationships with older people over the years. There’s one lady who stands out to me though; she is one of my favourite people in the world. We get on so well despite our 50 year age gap and I just adore being in her company. I’m not joking when I tell you we’ve been separated at the dinner table before so that we’ll behave!

Who is your Rosemary?

four-stars

Review: FEAR

January 24, 2018 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller, Translated Literature

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: FEAR FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Published by Orion on 25th January 2018
Genres: Psychological, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

YOU'D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY.

BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

FEAR is the story of Randolph Tiefenhaler, a married father of two who works as an architect in Berlin. He and his family live in an upper ground floor flat in the city. It’s upon purchasing this flat that the family find themselves under the scrutiny of their downstairs neighbour, Dieter Tiberius, a man who lives alone and rarely leaves his home. Dieter Tiberius’ notes to the family start off fairly innocuous, but it isn’t long before he is accusing Randolph and his wife of abusing their children. When Randolph seeks help from the police on this slanderous matter he is turned away – they can do nothing to help him. With everything in his life hanging on the words of his downstairs neighbour, Randolph is desperate to find a solution to his Dieter Tiberius problem.

The story is told by Randolph as he looks back on the events of his aforesaid problem. But as readers we spend a lot of time looking at Randolph’s own personal life, his upbringing and marriage in order to understand the man whose family are being stalked.

Originally written in German, the FEAR is the first of Dirk Kurbjuweit’s work to be translated into English. It’s a very interesting concept for a novel, not least because the author is drawing upon his own personal experiences. I think knowing this adds additional weight to the story and, as readers, we begin to wonder what we would do in Randolph’s position?

This was somewhat of a strange book for me in that I found it easy to read and thought-provoking but I really didn’t like Randolph! I grew weary of his selfishness, talk of his father’s guns and his constant reference to class. I don’t know if this is perhaps something in the translation that just didn’t sit with me, but I really disliked the man. Yet I was intrigued, I wanted to know how this Dieter Tiberius had forced a family to such lengths. I would actually have loved to have read some chapters from Tiberius’ perspective!

While I can’t say I was blown away by this book, I certainly found the concept interesting. I suspect that in not caring about the protagonist I probably missed out on much this book has to offer.

three-stars

Mini Review: Crooked Kingdom

October 17, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Mini Review: Crooked Kingdom Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2
Published by Orion on 27th September 2016
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off the most daring heist imaginable.
But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, they're low on resources, allies and hope.
While a war rages on the city's streets, the team's fragile loyalties are stretched to breaking point.
Kaz and his crew will have to make sure they're on the winning side... no matter what the cost.

Crooked Kingdom was one of my most-anticipated releases of the year. I adored Six of Crows and couldn’t wait for the second book in this duology. I’ve long been a fan of Bardugo; her Grisha trilogy was outstanding and I find myself frequently recommending it to readers young and old alike. So would Crooked Kingdom live up to my high expectations?

The simple answer is YES. A slightly longer answer is that it’s absolute perfection! No, seriously, it’s bloody brilliant.

If you haven’t read Six of Crows then you should really stop reading here and go pick up a copy (or check out my review from last year). Although I won’t be posting any Crooked Kingdom spoilers, there will be Six of Crows spoilers, so, fair warning!

At the end of Six of Crows, we left our favourite gang missing one key, kidnapped member of the troop. Having been played by Van Eck, they were a team member down and 30 million kruge light. In Crooked Kingdom, we see the crew fighting for their lives, seeking revenge and scheming like there’s no tomorrow!

So what can I say about this book?

The writing? Beautiful.

The characters? Better than ever.

The plot? Fast paced, twisty and action packed.

The conclusion to this duology? EPIC!

Need I say more?

I’ve genuinely no idea what I’m going to read next. How on earth am I going to find a book to follow this? If you have Crooked Kingdom sitting in your TBR pile, drop whatever you’re reading and pick it up. You won’t be disappointed!

What’s next Leigh Bardugo? I can’t wait to find out!

five-stars

Review: SHTUM

April 7, 2016 in Book Reviews, General fiction

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: SHTUM SHTUM by Jem Lester
Published by Orion on 7th April 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation - a strategic decision to further Jonah's case in an upcoming tribunal - Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben's elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

Ben is father to Jonah, a profoundly autistic ten year old who doesn’t speak, has no sense of danger, is doubly incontinent and requires full-time care.

The time has come to arrange Jonah’s progression to secondary school. Ben and his wife Emma deem the council’s selected school wholly inappropriate for Jonah’s needs and so face an appeal and tribunal to get the best placement for their son.

Emma informs Ben that their appeal would be more likely to succeed should Jonah live with a single parent, more specifically a single father. So it is that Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s 78 year old father Georg and Emma leaves for Hong Kong on business, putting the responsibility for the appeal firmly at Ben’s door.

Ben and his father have never been particularly close, but the three generations of Jewells begin life under one roof. This is an aspect of the book I particularly enjoyed – 3 generations of Jewell men living together. Ben and Georg who won’t speak and Jonah who doesn’t speak. We witness the bonds between them and the rebuilding of a somewhat dysfunctional relationship between father and son. We also see the beautiful relationship between a grandfather and his mute, autistic grandson.

The fact that Ben and Georg both confide in Jonah was rather interesting. Their secrets are after all safe with him; he doesn’t talk. Ben overhears Georg share their family history with Jonah, things he had never been told or thought to ask. While at first Ben is jealous, eventually he sees it for what it is, a grandfather sharing stories with his grandson.

I really loved how we gradually uncovered the family history along with Ben. Georg was born in Hungary to a Jewish family before fleeing the Nazis. This whole aspect of the story was fascinating and heartbreaking. Oh and just when you think this story couldn’t possibly get more emotional Georg (a brilliant character) faces his own health problems.

The main focus of this story though is Jonah, his autism and Ben’s fight to get the best for his son. Honestly, this book is an eye-opener. While I perhaps thought myself somewhat familiar with autism, I realise now that I absolutely was not.

The author Jem Lester is himself father to a profoundly autistic child and this knowledge further increases the impact of this incredible book: from the details of day-to-day life, to the corresponding emotions; the inability to be selfish, giving all his attention to Jonah (when sober); from the frustration and anger to the incomparable happiness in the rare moment when Jonah allows physical contact. Not only did it open my eyes but the honesty of it tugged at my heart.

The book itself is written beautifully and in such a way that the love for Jonah shines through. It’s an emotional read but it’s an absolute must-read.

It educated me, not just with regards to autism itself but also the impact upon the families, their relationships and the isolation they endure. It also demonstrated the difficult, lengthy and emotional journey that is involved in getting help or care. Furthermore, I was astounded to discover the costs involved in an appeal or tribunal, together with the actual cost of residential placement itself. Truly, these are incredible figures and highlight the difficulties faced by many. Moreover, it is saddening to see the direct impact that cost cutting by the authorities can have on those that truly need the help. This may be a work of fiction but the issues addressed in this novel are far from fictional!

I enjoyed the way this story was told. Intertwined with the story itself are letters regarding Jonah’s care, family letters as well as dialogue from the tribunal. This variety of story-telling kept me thoroughly engaged and desperate to read on.

This is a multi-stranded novel. From the relationships between fathers and sons to the impact of autism, from alcohol addiction to escaping Nazi Hungary. This novel is packed with issues and emotion.

I could go on for hours about Shtum – I’ve actually read it twice – but what I really want to say is just read it! It’s a special novel that will educate while simultaneously breaking your heart.

four-half-stars