An interesting approach to story-telling, but not the gripping thriller I was expecting. 3/5 stars.
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book to read and review.
The Book of Mirrors will be published on 26th January.
The blurb: When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued. The author, Richard Flynn is writing a memoir about his time at Princeton in the late 80s, documenting his relationship with the famous Professor Joseph Wieder.
One night in 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home and the case was never solved.
Peter Katz is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened that night twenty-five years ago and is convinced the full manuscript will reveal who committed the violent crime. But other people’s recollections are dangerous weapons to play with, and this might be one memory that is best kept buried.
My review will be spoiler-free in the sense that I won’t talk about “whodunnit”. However, I will discuss what this book is not and that might be considered a spoiler by some. You’ve been warned!
Perhaps I went into this book with the wrong expectations. From the blurb and the intriguing first part of the story – full as it is of mentions of secret memory manipulations experiments – I was expecting the narrative to develop as a thrilling, complex, mind-bending mystery, something akin to Danny Boyle’s film, Trance.
Well, that’s not what this book is. In fact, The Book of Mirrors is more an exploration of memory than a thriller or mystery. If you’re interested in a meditation on the subjectivity and unreliability of recollection or memory loss, then this is a story for you. If you’re after an edge-of-your-seat whodunnit, then I’d pick up something else.
A strong conclusion to the duology. Fans of Passenger will be delighted. 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Hachette Children’s Group, Quercus Children’s Books and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.
The blurb: No blurb to avoid spoiling book 1, Passenger. If you want to know more about that one, check out my review. However, I can tell you that this YA duology is a time-travelling adventure with a romance between the two main characters, Nicholas and Etta.
Back in June last year, I “only” gave Passenger 3 stars because I felt the romance overshadowed and eventually smothered the brilliant adventure element of the plot. I’m pleased to say I enjoyed Wayfarer more than Passenger largely because the two main characters are kept apart for a significant portion of the book. During their separation Nicholas and Etta are forced to work with secondary characters with whom they don’t get along swimmingly and the resulting tension makes for better reading than Passenger‘s long accounts of how much Nicholas and Etta love each other. In fact, the secondary characters getting more development and page space is one of the best things about Wayfarer. They’re a diverse, alternatively charming and spiky bunch who bring some much-needed laughs, mystery and drama to the narrative.
A wonderful book. I defy you not to fall in love with Flora Banks. 5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book for review.
The One Memory of Flora Banks will be published on 12th January.
The blurb: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
Regular readers of my blog will know I’m miserly with my 5-star ratings. In 2016 I read and reviewed 117 books and gave only 3 of them 5 stars. This makes me feel that when I come across a book I want to give 5 stars, I should be able to set off sort of klaxon, write “ALL OF YOU READ THIS NOW!” and that should be enough.
But that would be a bit lazy, wouldn’t it? 😉
A gripping story told by a compelling voice. 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book. My review is unbiased and honest.
Good Me Bad Me will be published on 12th January.
The blurb: Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police. But out of sight is not out of mind.
As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly. A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.
But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me. She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…
My difficult relationship with the thriller genre continues! Yet again, another book being universally lauded fell a little flat with me 😦
I understand why so many readers love this book and it’s already being tipped as one of the great successes of 2017. The story is gripping, told in Milly’s first-person voice which is entirely convincing and compelling. You find yourself following her eagerly, whizzing through the chapters to find out what’s next. Also, whereas in other thrillers I’ve read, I’ve been annoyed by implausible character decisions, there’s none of that here. Everything Milly, her foster parents and sister, kids and teachers at her school do is believable.
However, readers should be warned that there is some highly disturbing content here, including first-person insights into the activities of a serial killer whose victims are all small children. This is not a fun, enjoyable read.
Although this book has a lot going for it, it’s not the upbeat mystery I was hoping for. 3/5 stars.
Thank you to HarperCollins UK, 4th Estate and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book and the chance to review it.
Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars will be published on 12th January.
The blurb: Soho, 1965.
In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre. When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate.
But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth. Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.
For in order to uncover Iolanthe’s secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own…
There are many things to like about Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars. I think this is the first story I’ve read which is set in 1960s’ London, a location which was brilliantly rendered, interesting and refreshing.
The diversity of the characters is also impressive. Aloysius, a Jamaican accountant, quickly became my favourite. The story moves at a good pace and there’s always something happening, mostly because the main characters are roving all over London and then southern England in search of the missing Iolanthe.
Sunny romantic escapism! 4/5 stars.
Thank you to the author for sending me an advance copy of the book.
Who Does He Think He Is? is published today, 15th December and is available on Amazon.
The blurb: Lady Aurelia Osbourne-Lloyd has long wished her bank balance was as big as her name. But her home, Leydale Park, is more of a pile in a state than stately pile, and with her father off ‘finding himself’ in Thailand, it’s up to her to turn the family fortunes around by entertaining demanding tourists.
When – thanks to her father’s interference – a Hollywood production company chooses the estate as a location for a Regency movie, a whole new level of chaos enters Aurelia’s life. Her quiet days shattered and privacy non-existent, she has no choice but to go with the flow and let them take over.
Never mind the added distraction of dishy leading man, Xander Lord, who may have an ulterior motive for wanting to get close to her…
Can Aurelia keep her cool in light of all the upheaval?
Who Does He Think He Is? is a fun contemporary romance set in a fantastic location with likeable characters. If you’re a fan of the genre and looking for a lighter read, I recommend this.
Continue reading my review…
Recommended for classic mystery fans who need a break from peace and goodwill to all. 3/5 stars.
The blurb: Mavis Doriel Hay wrote ‘The Santa Klaus Murder’ in 1936, one of three detective novels she published in the 1930s.
A classic country-house murder mystery, ‘The Santa Klaus Murder’ begins with Aunt Mildred declaring that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gathering at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered — by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus —with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos.
Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond’s death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive. Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the identity of the murderer, but in the midst of mistrust, suspicion, and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus but two.
If you’re looking forward to reading a classic murder mystery, your heart lifts when you open the book and the first thing you see is a map of the ground floor of a country house which is basically the Cluedo (Clue for those of you in the US) game board. 🙂
It’s not just its country house-cut-off-from-civilisation setting which makes this a classic; this book is very much of its time. It was written in 1934 and the characters divide neatly into upper-class great and lesser twits, lower-class gold diggers and middle class people muddling through to figure out what the heck’s going on. The tone was so cut-glass it reminded me more of The Famous Five than Christie.
Continue reading my review…