My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing. I DO NOT accept review requests but only review books I choose to read and I don't post reviews on Amazon. I'm also persnickity about genre and plot. DO NOT FOLLOW ME IF YOU'RE HERE TO ADVERTISE, ESPECIALLY NON-BOOK PRODUCTS. I WILL BLOCK YOU!!!
Four Books finished this month, all NetGalley and all good! I've got 3 more from Netgalley in progress as well as a couple of other choices, so there should be a few more done by the end of June.
I think I've refined by choosing criteria for Netgalley pretty well now. I'm finding the good stuff and skipping past the maybes.
I'm slowly making my way through my samples as well but I keep getting more!
Still got loads on my A-list to read so I'm trying not to prioritize Netgalley too much. Having a great run of really enjoyable reading!
by Belinda Bauer
This was an entertaining story. It starts with three children left in their mother's car broken down on the roadside while she goes to make a phone call, promising to be only ten minutes. However, she doesn't return at all. The author does a brilliant job of taking us through the thoughts and emotions of the eldest, Jack, who has been left in charge though he's only eleven. With a snappy sister and a baby that probably needs changing, he suddenly has far too much responsibility.
The chapters alternate between the story of the children and another character, Catherine, who is a pregnant woman from a few years later and who also faces a difficult and frightening situation. The connection isn't immediately obvious.
When the connection gets made, things get a lot more fast paced. Even before then, the idiosyncrasies of the various characters keep the story interesting. I liked Jack. The mystery of their mother's disappearance dominates much of the story and there are some flashbacks, especially in Jack's dreams. It's all done very smoothly so that I never felt confused about time periods or when Jack was dreaming again.
In some ways, some of the characters weren't quite believable and bordered on a few clichés. The police procedures definitely wandered into the highly unlikely. However, I didn't care. It was a good story and I enjoyed the read, even anticipating some of the unlikely directions it was heading towards near the end.
The only thing I didn't like about the end is that Catherine's story was left partially unresolved. I'd like to have known what happened next. Jack on the other hand I felt satisfied about.
There were some interesting psychological aspects of the story throughout. Jack's motivations were clear and his cleverness in tight situations is what made me feel sympathetic towards him.
It feels like I've waited for the next book in this series forever!
I even went on Netgalley yesterday looking for a decent time travel book. All I found were lame sounding ones.
I'm going to try to limit myself to one chapter a day this time. I still have review reads to finish and want to savor this instead of reading it all at once like I usually do and then having to wait for the next one.
by Claire Allan
Emily, a woman with an anxiety disorder, witnesses a hit and run that kills a woman with a baby right in front of her. Her first thoughts are that it was meant to be herself or that her ex is somehow behind it. She finds out who the woman is and begins to stalk her Facebook profile, even attending her funeral.
She becomes obsessed with the life of Rose and without intending to actually take over her life, starts to fill some of the empty spaces Rose has left behind. The protagonist, Emily, is neurotic. I won't go into detail but it all unfolds as the story goes along. She does prove you don't have to like or identify with the protagonist to enjoy a good story.
A lot of hints are dropped early on that there's something off about the situation. Apart from Rose being killed of course. Working out what's going on under the surface is part of the interest factor. Mystery readers would definitely enjoy it. Questions include was Rose murdered? If so, who was behind it?
Uncovering the truth leads Emily to find that more than one person close to Rose is not as they seem. For the most part, I found the story well written and enjoyable. Emily's concerns and need to deal with her anxiety and past history is well represented, though it could have gone further in some situations that would make a person without a disorder get anxious.
I didn't like the end. I liked the way it was plotted, but a final twist was made a little too easy and the very end just didn't ring true. It was doing okay until the very last line, which really blew it for me.
Overall though, it was a good read and although I guessed the first part of the ending, I couldn't be sure until I got there.
by Andrew Taylor
This started with a list of characters, something I always skip past. They don't mean anything until they become a part of the story!
However, once the story began, some familiar characters from the first book of the series appeared, most notably Catherine Lovett and James Marwood. Marwood's father, an old man without all his faculties, starts off in a sequence wherein he follows a woman thinking she is his wife, Rachel, who actually died years ago. He finds a body of a different woman and eventually discovers that the woman he followed is not Rachel.
Thus starts the mystery and intrigue that will shape the story. I found the pace a little slower in the first part of the book than in Ashes of London, the first book of the series, but still interesting and I'm glad I stuck with it as it gets better as more connections fall into place.
The pace actually gets very fast and dramatic in the later part of the book and the spiderweb of connections that have been set up throughout the story all fall into place. In a lot of ways it's a whodunnit, but with political intrigue and a lot of very human emotions involved. It's extremely well-written and I will be looking for a third book, which is hinted at by the very end.
The outcome surprised me not once but twice with plot twists I never saw coming. That's pretty rare!
by Judy Leigh
This reminds me a little of a senior version of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. A 75-year-old woman is bored with life at a retirement home and regrets getting talked into selling her house and moving into the facility. One day she takes her purse and cards and wanders out for a day in the city of Dublin for a change of scene.
Her adventures start pretty quickly. She buys a hat and coat to change her image and falls into 'interesting' company who leads her into trying things she has never done before, like gambling. It all escalates from there and becomes a fascinating journey with many twists and turns, sometimes relying on the luck of the Irish in ways that nudge belief a little far.
I like Evie, the main character. I also like that she was an older character and brought both life experience and attitude to her role. There were a lot of surprises in her story and I enjoyed the read for the most part. I thought a secondary storyline about her son and his wife was drawn out a little too long in the later chapters. I started out not liking Maura and ended not thinking much of Brendan either, but they did add some comic relief to the story.
The later part of the story settled into predictability but I'm glad all the loose ends were tied up. The majority of the tale was great fun and appealed to my sense of rebellion and the sort of old lady I aspire to be when the time comes.
I've started several books, all acquired from Netgalley, and they're all good so far!
What a nice change! At least they're not all the same genre this time.
Wow, the month is nearly over already!
I've managed to finish 3 books. One more than last month anyway. There seems to be a theme here, I do love Historical Fiction but ALL of them?!
I blame Netgalley. I still have one more Historical on my current reads but there is some other stuff too. The Historicals tend to be in the 400 page range so taking me a little longer than some other books might.
All of the above books were 4-5 stars so worth taking the time for them!
Oh and I've been working through my samples again too. Trying to read 2 a day, though sometimes I collect them faster than that!
by Anna-Marie Crowhurst
Set in the seventeenth century, Ursula Flight is an unusual girl with a curious mind and a hankering for adventure. As a child she applies herself to learning to read and to learn about the world in ways that girls of her era seldom do, then a chance meeting with an actress leads her to fascination with a vocation with a bad reputation that is outweighed by the appeal of life on the stage.
Ursula is a likeable character from the start. She's intelligent and curious, more interested in an experience for its own merits than in 'what people will think'. However, although her father encourages her learning, when a local Lord takes a fancy to young Ursula, her father effectively orders her to marry him. Needless to say, Ursula is not pleased with being effectively sold into marriage.
The story is mostly told in first person, so we get a look inside the thoughts of a young girl, her fancies, and her unspoken opinions all along. One of her interests is in writing plays, so we are given interludes that she has depicted as a playwrite and have to wonder how much embellishment Ursula has added to her private writings.
Facing some difficult circumstances in an era when women were treated much as property brings out the strength in the character, even through girlish fancies. The story kept me interested all the way through and made me wonder if I would have had the courage to do some of the things she does to overcome obstacles to her happiness.
This is a really fun read. Sort of a senior version of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Might still be on Netgalley.
by Andrew Taylor
The Ashes of London is set against the Great London Fire of 1666. There are two stories intertwined. A first person narrative from James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, who is tasked to track down the killer of a mummified corpse found in St Paul's after it has burned down, alternating with a third person account of Cat, an heiress whose father is in exile for treason who faces many of the hardships that women had to deal with in that era, rich or poor.
Cat is a strong character and intelligent. She has an aptitude for architecture that the role of women would usually squelch, but through a series of mostly unfortunate circumstances, she finds herself in a position to develop.
The changing perspectives actually work very well. There is a healthy dose of political intrigue and an element of mystery to be solved. The book held my attention and the last few chapters got into some tense action that had me glued to the pages. I'm glad I've got the sequel waiting for me because this was definitely one of my best reads this year!
by Edward Rutherfurd
Like other books written by Rutherfurd, history is illustrated within intertwining stories of people and families covering a sequence of centuries showing life and how it developed within the chosen city, in this case, Paris.
I enjoyed the book a lot, though it didn't have quite the generational flow that some of his others did. The stories of individual characters kept me interested and seeing what happened with their descendants was reminiscent of Rutherfurd's style in earlier books.
It is a long book, over 800 pages, and took me a long time to read through all of it, but it was time well spent. Seeing the construction of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, plus exploring the variable feelings that local residents had about the latter, really brought the history alive. Also reading through eras of religious and political strife in France and how Paris residents were affected expanded my knowledge of history, which is part of the point of reading Historical Fiction!
Rutherfurd remains one of my favorite authors in this genre. The last few chapters took us underground in the French resistance of WW2 and although I find that era generally over saturated, I really got caught up in events, some real, some fictionalized. Rutherfurd included an afterword to differentiate which was which.
There were a few very long chapters that could do with sub-chapters, but it was a good read and kept my interest, despite the length.
Two books. That's all. But double last month's total!
Still pretty pathetic, but in fact I have done as much reading as time has allowed and have made good progress through two long current reads as well as a lot of samples.
Unfortunately the samples total has increased anyway because silly me went on Twitter and did a search on time travel books!
I've also managed to collect four Netgalley books somehow. One is a sequel to one of my current reads.
I seem to be having a Historical Fiction phase, and many of those are longer than average. One of my current reads exceeds 800 pages! So, hopefully April will be better after finishing off some of the current stuff.
Because Netgalley just gave me the sequel! So, thought I better read it first. 3 chapters in and I'm loving the author's voice. I was about due for something historical anyway. It's set against the great fire of London.